The European Union’s Practice of State Recognition: Between Norms and Interests

19. Edward Newman and Gëzim Visoka (2018), ‘The European Union’s Practice of State Recognition: Between Norms and Interests’, Review of International Studies, 44(4): 760-786.

This article explores the European Union’s (EU) practices of international state recognition in a transitional international order. It illustrates the difficulties that the EU has encountered in attempting to reach a collective position on sensitive cases of recognition – through a complex balance of internal and external considerations – at a time when the norms regarding recognition are increasingly under challenge. Whether the organisation takes a collective European position on recognition or allows its members to adopt individual national positions, acute inconsistencies and tensions have been exposed, with implications for the EU’s standing in the world. Through this, the article identifies a key tension between the EU’s normative commitments and its geopolitical interests. In conclusion, the article argues that whilst a uniform EU policy on recognition may not be feasible and case-by-case pragmatism will likely continue, a more coherent approach and greater understanding of the impact of the EU’s position on recognition are necessary. The paper draws upon interview material and extensive analysis of official EU documentation in order to provide new insights into this complex challenge. By exploring the intricacies of recognition politics, the paper also makes an empirical contribution to understanding the practice of international relations in this area.


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