Regions in Europe: The Paradox of Power (Routledge Research in European Public Policy)
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But the EU has tried to work cohesively and influence Russia in a number of crises. Most recently, it has tried to get the country to accept tougher measures towards the Assad regime in Syria, but Russia has opposed any UN resolutions that threatened the regime with military force or mandated foreign military intervention. In the protracted conflicts of Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh, very little progress has been made, despite the EU having worked to get Russia to assist in conflict resolution, particularly in the former case Popescu, ; Gordon, For example, the EU has not been able to persuade Russia to drop overflight fees which are used to pay a subsidy to Aeroflot on flights to Asia on European airline companies that fly over Siberia.
This case suggests that many issues remain unresolved, even if the EU acted in a coherent manner and was very motivated. One could object, justifiably, that the resolution strategy chosen by the EU was flawed, or at least overly limited. The EU referred to existing commitments as well as general rules and norms, but it did not consider or threaten with economic countersanctions — not to mention more political countermeasures.
Yet in this case one should also remember that Russia initially agreed to abolish the fees but later reneged on its promise. This change of policy had much more to do with power relations within Russian politics than with EU relations Forsberg and Seppo, The export duties clashed with EU-Russia free trade regulations, and it seemed as if Russia wanted to stop all timber exports.
Here the EU was not as united as in the Siberian overflight case, but paradoxically, there was greater success on the bilateral level. When Putin rather unexpectedly announced in a meeting with the Finnish Prime Minister in that duties on timber were to be postponed for nine months, he explained that the decision was due to the dire situation on financial markets, and was necessary in order to safeguard jobs in both countries.
This move can also be seen as a sign that Russia preferred to seek solutions bilaterally, in order to undermine the collective power of the EU and its institutions. The timber tax dispute was finally settled only when Russia joined the WTO in In this sense, the EU strategy of fostering Russian WTO membership appears as a belated success, but at the height of the dispute it did not offer much promise of any future reward Forsberg and Seppo, Most importantly, Russia has refused to ratify the Energy Charter Treaty that the EU regards as the basic framework for energy relations.
Civil Society and EU Enlargement
A well-known instance of this concerned human rights questions during the second Chechen war in Not only did the EU use strong diplomatic rhetoric, it also imposed sanctions on Russia, because the latter used excessive violence and abandoned its international legal commitments to the civilian population in Chechnya.
Yet, Russia did not change its policies. Despite internal disagreements, the largest member states, Germany and France, took the lead and mobilized the EU to demand transparency and respect for human rights agreements. The EU later changed its policy and dropped the sanctions. At this point there was an evident lack of will to push these policies any further, but this was due to lack of success and not the other way around Forsberg and Herd, Similarly, the EU has had very little influence in trying to foster democracy and human rights in Russia with regard to fairness of elections, civil society organisations, freedom of the media and corruption.
Different theories of power may account for these failures in different ways, and it would be too easy to point to one or two overarching reasons. In most cases, lack of military power, lack of unity or poor strategy are only partial explanations since Russia would hardly have changed its policies even if the EU had had more robust military resources, more unity or better strategies in any meaningfully conceivable manner. Before rushing to the conclusion that the EU can never influence Russia, we should examine some more encouraging precedents.
Despite failing to prevent the war, the EU was successful in mediating a ceasefire that ended the military conflict, and established a monitoring mission to stabilize the situation. Moreover, the mandate of the monitoring mission was limited since it was denied access to the South Ossetian and Abkhazian territories.
In some deeper sense, the fact that the EU had such resources and could send the mission was of course critical to this limited success; the success is not attributable to the amount of military or economic power as such Forsberg and Seppo, This intervention apparently compelled Moldova to reject the Memorandum at the last minute.
Although it could not impose any solution to the conflict — its sanction policy, for example, remained rather vague — the episode showed that no solution to the Transnistrian problem is likely to be possible without EU support Popescu, Moreover, the EU has also exercised power in creating standards for imports to the Union, and in imposing competition rules.
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Similarly in the EU and Russia agreed on the facilitation of the visa regime for EU and Russian citizens, but not on the abolition of visas, as Russia had wished. In these cases the EU, represented by the Commission, has shown a united front, although practices in implementing the existing visa policies have varied from country to country. This undermined some EU positions in the negotiations, but the EU still prevailed because these were matters where Russia and not the EU was the party making the demands. Sometimes economic incentives, such as the allocation of EU funds for the renewal of the sewage treatment system in St.
For example, in an issue that was of utmost importance to it, Russia was unable to get the Chechen representative Akhmed Zakaev extradited from Denmark or the UK. Despite the many let-downs, the EU has managed to create the image of a partnership with Russia. This inability is puzzling insofar as the EU has been seen as possessing more traditional power resources than Russia.
Examining a range of successes and failures in recent EU-Russia relations reveals some important details of the anatomy of power in current world politics. The first concerns different types of power. Traditional realists argue that the EU is weak because it lacks military power resources. This assumption is somewhat problematic, since the member states of the EU collectively outstrip Russia in terms of military power.
Moreover, a closer examination of many instances of EU-Russia relations reveals that it is seldom the lack of military resources that makes the EU weak. This is in line with the view that the absence of EU military capability was not considered problematic by any of the third party representatives interviewed by Bretherton and Vogler Bretherton and Vogler, Neither has Russia used its energy resources as political instruments in its relations with the EU; rather, it acted as a responsible supplier.
A second explanation is related to the ontology of power. It may be true that the EU possesses objective resources of power, but social power is more heavily based on perceptions and shared concepts of power. Indeed, despite objective power asymmetries particularly in the economic field, Russia does not perceive itself as being dependent on the EU. Russia thinks that it is a great power and yet the EU does not give it the role of an equal partner that it expects.
For the EU, the relationship is conceived as one of interdependence, and yet the EU regards itself as the centre of European integration. Because there is no shared hierarchy of power, the two parties cannot exert any meaningful degree of influence on each other. The EU may possess power resources, but it is said to lack the coherence, strategic skill, and will to exercise them. Indeed, the lack of success often explains the lack of unity, rather than the other way round.
In most cases, it can be claimed, even if it did enjoy greater internal unity, the EU would not have been able to make any significant impact on Russia. There are many instances when the EU was united and attempted to formulate a coherent strategy, but nonetheless failed to have any influence on Russia.
By contrast, in some disputes Russia has refused to comply with EU demands, but was willing to seek bilateral solutions. It seems that a high level of EU cohesion does not always increase the likelihood of an agreement, since it is in Russian interests to stifle European unity. At the present it is unclear if a better strategy exists for the EU, for example through a more coercive approach or alternatively, by offering bigger incentives to Russia on trade and human rights issues instead of small-scale positive inducements and normative persuasion.
Many doubt that this will be the case since whenever the EU has imposed economic and political sanctions, these were quickly abandoned as ineffective. The impression that the EU has little or no influence on Russia relies on instances where the EU has offensive and Russia defensive objectives. In other words, the EU has little leverage in matters that Russia can control by virtue of its sovereignty.
In such cases it is difficult to imagine that any amount of power resources, unity, determination or strategies would have much effect. A fuller picture emerges when we turn this perspective around and see that in most cases of real importance to it, Russia has been unable to influence either the EU as a whole or individual EU states. If one takes a broad historical perspective, this in itself can be rightly seen as an achievement in its own right. Lack of unity, coherence, and political certainly play a role, but it is often implausible to think that more unity and more political determination could create radically different outcomes.
There is no unified theory of power, and it may be futile to even look for one. Indeed, in many circumstances, factors on a more modest scale and political coincidences can play a decisive role. There is much disagreement and confusion as to how much power the European Union actually has in international politics, whether it is increasing or onthe wane, and how the EU can best use what power it has.
Although no single analytical framework suffices for understanding power in international politics, it is important to be able to understand what difference alternative theories of power make. First, power can be seen in terms of its sources: military, economic and normative. Second, it can be conceived in terms of resources, perceptions, and intersubjective understandings. Third, in addition to resources, effective power also depends on strategy and will to use power. Fourth, the assumption that the more powerful party is always able to impose its will might be mistaken.
This article compares these four basic ways to understand power and applies them to EU — Russia relations. I argue that explaining the success or failure of the EU to advance its interests concerning Russia has little to do with the traditional understanding of power as military capability. On the contrary, much more attention should be paid to the other dimensions of power. Theories of Power 6 Though integration theories have been seen as essential part of IR theories, there is a common perception that research on EU foreign policy has been theoretically thin.
Types of Power 10 International relations theories differ in their analyses of power. Perceptions of Power 14 Another way of explaining why the EU fails to translate a power advantage into policy impact is to show that social power is in the eye of the beholder: it is not based not on resources but on perceptions and shared understandings van Ham, Conversion Process 16 It is an old maxim that power resources cannot be directly translated into power, and that weaker parties can win conflicts See e.
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