EU Soft Power in the Eastern Neighborhood and the Western Balkans in the Context of Crises

Baltic Journal of European Studies 7 (2):148-167 (2017)
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Abstract
The article aims to assess a change in the EU’s soft power in the Western Balkan and Eastern Partnership states in the light of the crises the bloc has undergone in recent years. Generally agreeing with the common argument that the EU’s attractiveness for those countries has decreased, the author challenges the popular wisdom that such a decrease is likely to reverse those states’ pro-EU foreign policy orientations. To prove it, the author applies Joseph Nye’s and Alexander Vuving’s “power currencies” approach to operationalize soft power, considering the bloc’s attraction as a combination of “brilliance” (the actor’s relationship with its work), “benignity” (the actor’s relationship with other actors) and “beauty” (the actor’s relationship with values and ideas). Elaborating on the crises’ influence on each of these currencies, the author shows that their lessening, first, has mainly taken place in absolute rather than relative terms, so the EU’s attractiveness remains strong compared to that of its competitors, and second, it has primarily affected the bloc’s soft power potential rather than its actual behavior towards the target countries.
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