The Success of EU Soft Power
Recently, the popularity among the European citizens towards the European Union (EU) has been stagnating as the sense of lack of control to a central authority is being challenged. Polls painfully show that there is an increasing will to exit the Union or at least decentralise the power in Europe. The Union has met several problems in its operation and none the less in its economy. However, what many forget, is that the intentional objective of the EU is not the economic or political integration- these are merely means to an end- an end which is regional peace and stability (Dinan, 2010, 3-6).
Considering what the EU has accomplished is rather astonishing. It has managed to bring peace and stability to a region of war and antagonism with the means of cooperation not coercion. This is something that has been the theme of the organisation throughout its existence. Never has it used force in order to reach its scopes- it is solemnly based on soft power (Tuomioja, 2009, 4).
So to use the word success of the operation of the EU is not at all without substance or exaggerated. This is still present as there are still more states knocking on the door of the EU, wanting to get into the warmth. Moreover, the enlargement procedure is the ultimate method of soft power that the EU can perform. By spreading its liberal values to external states in a process of Europeanisation, makes these entities adopt the EU core values: the rule of law, democracy, market economy and advocacy of human rights, which all help spread the regional stability. This has been obvious in the recent enlargement rounds to the Central and European counties which have all needed a period of adaption and adoption to the EU system before the accession (Tuomioja, 2009, 3-4, Dinan, 2010, 483-5).
The states have voluntarily altered their own system and pooled their sovereignty with this central power. Arguably, this is because the EU values are attractive. The EU has created a stable system which allows its member-states to prosper both economically and politically under the security of the Union, which other states are willing to adopt. Yet, the EU does little to promote their own image. There is no single coordinated EU public diplomacy. The EU system and its success speaks for itself (Bay Rasmussen, 2012).
This can arguably be compared to the US model, which is undoubtedly based on hard power, and which spends huge amounts of funds on public diplomacy and to enhance its own image globally. There is no doubt that the image of the US is popular globally, however the hard US policy has a significantly low global support. The EU policy on the other hand, seem more appealing internationally, with its less conservative approach to for example gun control, civil rights, and climate change together with its softer conduct (Nye, 2004; Cooper, 2004, 13).
The Eurosceptics fails to see the bigger picture- what the EU actually has accomplished and what it keeps accomplishing. That the fulfilment of its main purpose makes it a success. That it through the soft power manages to spread peace and stability in the European region. Furthermore, the EU case proves that soft power does not always go hand in hand with public diplomacy. Soft power can be a story of success even without a strong promotion.
Bay Rasmussen, 2012, Current Challenges to European Union Public Diplomacy, Public Diplomacy Magazine, http://publicdiplomacymagazine.com/current-challenges-to-european-union-public-diplomacy/. Accessed March 2015.
Cooper, 2004, Hard Power, Soft Power, and the Goals of Diplomacy, in Held & Koenig-Archibugi, 2004, American Power in the 21st Century, pp. 167-180, Polity Press, Cambridge
Dinan, 2010, Ever Closer Union: An Introduction to European Integration, 4th ed., Lynne Rienner Publishers Inc., Buolder
Nye 2004, in Zalman 2012, How Power Really Works in the 21st Century: Beyond Soft, Hard & Smart, The Globalist, http://www.theglobalist.com/how-power-really-works-in-the-21st-century-beyond-soft-hard-smart/. Accessed March 2015.
Tuomioja, 2009, The Role of Soft Power in EU Common Foreign Policy, International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy Berlin, vol. 30, no. 7, http://www.culturaldiplomacy.org/academy/content/articles/speakers/detailed/erkki-tuomioja/erkki-tumioja_-_the-role-of-soft-power-in-eu-common-foreign-policy.pdf. Accessed March 2015.