Given the EU's limited capacity to compel or coerce the states in its periphery, it is more dependent than other international actors on the ability to persuade and co-opt neighbourhood elites to change. The effectiveness of EU external policy is therefore intrinsically entwined with third party perceptions of EU output legitimacy that are based on the extent of resonance between EU and neighbourhood state policy norms. However, this paper argues that the EU often faces a tension between need for internal output legitimacy (deriving from the EU political economy) and the external output legitimacy needed for the export of effective policy (emanating from neighbourhood domestic structures). What is seen as legitimate practice in Europe will often be met with a set of partly inimical policy preferences emanating from a different political and normative context in neighbourhood states - leaving the EU caught between internal legitimacy and external efficiency. Utilising concepts from the literature on EU external governance and regime theory, as well as notions of preference formation (Moravcsik ; Laiuml;di ), this tension is highlighted through a case study of EU energy governance and human rights/rule of law policy in Central Asia. In doing so, this paper draws attention to a nexus of overlapping convergent and divergent preferences in EU-periphery relations and the rooting of legitimacy in domestic politico-economic structures.
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