Coping with Multipolarity: EU Values and the Stability of International Order

Coping with Multipolarity_EU Values and the Stability of International Order

The emergence of a multipolar order has led to concerted efforts to develop a more ‘realist’ edge to the EU’s foreign policy identity, emphasising interests, capabilities, and strategy. Multipolarity is believed to necessitate such a move because it is thought to bring about a more dangerous and unstable world, for which the EU’s normative power identity is thought poorly suited. Yet multipolar instability is not a foregone conclusion, but occurs in the absence of representative institutions, regional consolidation, efficient balancing, ethics of accommodation, and channels of diplomatic communication. EU values can contribute to the stability of the emerging order because many of those values at the heart of the Union’s international identity—multilateralism, regionalism, pluralism, flexibility, and diplomacy—can help bring about the normative conditions upon which a stable multipolarity depends. Drawing on debates on the relationship between polarity and stability, this working paper challenges the prevailing view of multipolar instability and highlights the importance of societal values in the EU’s foreign policy identity which can contribute to a more stable multipolar order. Lisa ten Brinke and Benjamin Martill challenge the dominant view of multipolarity and help clarify what is (and what is not) at stake in the debate over ‘normative’ and ‘realist’ foreign policy choices.

Download the working paper here.

Lisa ten Brinke is research associate at the Dahrendorf Forum in London

Benjamin Martill is post-doctoral research fellow at the Dahrendorf Forum in London


Keywords: Multipolarity; European security; normative power Europe; Global Strategy; realism


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