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The War of the Wor(l)ds: Normative De-Legitimation and Russia-EU Rivalry in the Neighborhood

Evgeniya Bakalova

Much research has been dedicated to the positive effects of “Normative Power” EU’s ability to shape conceptions of the “normal”, as well as EU’s “power legitimacy”linked to the ability of exerting influence by means of norm-setting practices; negative externalities, however, widely remain in the shadows.If one looks at EU’s normative expansion in the Russia-EU environment one may notice that the promotion of norms and EU’s unchallenged power to define thecontent of these norms is closely linked to inclusion/exclusion processes which entail normative de-legitimation of actors not complying with the exclusively definedlegitimate norm. Normative de-legitimation, a consequence of EU’s exclusive acqui and conditionality mechanism, may be interpreted as an external threatto status legitimacy and can invoke reactive practices from the side of a “de-legitimized power” in the shared environment.The paper being part of a larger PhD project will present an eclectic analytical framework evolving around the “securitization of legitimacy (status) threat” concept whichcombines the English School’s insights into the importance of norm-setting power for the legitimization of great power status and the Copenhagen School’ssecuritization of threats approach - both of which attempt to synthesize constructivism and classical political realism. This analytical model aims at bringing togetherperceptions of threat to power legitimacy, norm politicization/securitization and political reactions to the normative advance of the EU in Russia’s perceived sphere ofinfluence; a research model which could potentially bring more clarity into the problem of Russia-EU normative rivalry in the shared neighborhood.

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