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Conflicted Normative Power Europe: The European Union and Sexual Minority Rights

Martijn Mos

This paper will evaluate the extent to which the European Union (EU) manifests the ability to act as, and possesses the potential to develop into, a norm-setting bureaucracy in its external relations when it comes to the protection and promotion of sexual minority rights. In order to examine this the theoretical notion of Normative Power Europe, as developed by Ian Manners, is invoked. Subsequently, the historical development of the Union's internal policies related to the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community is briefly outlined. This is followed by an evaluation of the EU's international identity regarding LGBT rights. Ultimately it is concluded that the ability of the EU to shape international norms and values concerning this policy issue is severely undercut by a set of internal, institutional, instrumental and conceptual inconsistencies. Only by overcoming this confliction and inconsonance can the EU develop into a full-fledged, credible and effective normative power in the case of sexual minority rights. It is concluded that the recently launched LGBT toolkit could constitute an important step in this direction.

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