chapter  1
22 Pages

A strange superpower

The European Union (EU) has become an increasingly important global actor but only in some areas. It is an economic superpower with its own currency (the euro) and plays a key role in international trade negotiations. It also plays an important role in many other areas such as the environment and development policy. It is the largest provider of development assistance and the largest contributor to the United Nations (UN) budget. It increasingly sends peace-keeping missions to far-flung regions of the world but it has nothing like the power-projection capabilities of the United States (US). Internal developments have often had an impact on external relations, and similarly the EU has had to respond to external events such as the end of the Cold War and 9/11. The EU’s external representation is absurdly complicated and baffling to outsiders. Given its special nature, scholars find it difficult to agree on a theoretical label for the Union.