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The External Identity of the EU as a ‘Democracy Promoter: Myth or Reality?

Cardwell, P. J. ORCID: 0000-0002-7485-3474 (2012). The External Identity of the EU as a ‘Democracy Promoter: Myth or Reality? In: Identity in the Era of Globalisation and Europeanisation. (pp. 27-35). Институт за социолошки и политичко-правни истражувања.


Like all political actors, the European Union (EU) presents its identity to the outside world in as positive a light as possible: a successful example of peaceful, democratic integration and cooperation between nation states. References to its birth from the destruction of the European continent and its role in ensuring peace and stability between Member States are commonly expressed features of the EU’s external identity. At the heart of this external identity lies the belief that the EU embodies democratic principles which are reflective of its internal structure and development. The EU’s own treaty arrangements state that EU action on the international scene shall be guided by a set of principles which are central to its own existence – and the first of these is ‘democracy’. This chapter will consider, first, the complex nature of how the promotion of democracy is carried out in the EU’s relations with the world beyond its borders. The chapter adopts a wide conception of democracy promotion, which can be expressly or impliedly perceived. By casting a wide net, the extent of democracy promotion can be seen to be wider than previously thought which helps to broaden the debate about how the EU puts in place its Treaty obligations to promote democracy. The chapter will finally consider the extent to which the emphasis on democracy promotion within the EU’s external activities can justify characterising the EU’s identity as one of a ‘democracy promoter’ or whether its actions do not fully match up to its words.

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: This chapter has been published in "Identity in the Era of Globalisation and Europeanisation" by Institute for Sociological and Political-Legal Research (
Publisher Keywords: European Union, democracy promotion, external identity
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Departments: The City Law School > Academic Programmes
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