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Between a rock and a hard place? Internal-external legitimacy tensions and EU foreign policy in the European periphery

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In the wider EU periphery, the effectiveness of EU policy is dependent on external perceptions of EU legitimacy and the local resonance of EU norms. However, the EU often faces tensions between the internal legitimacy demanded by key non-state actors within the EU and the external legitimacy needed for the effective export of policy - leaving the EU caught at times between internal legitimacy and external effectiveness. Furthermore, these tensions are often the product of ‘antagonistic' relationships between European transnational actors and third-party states. These legitimacy tensions, and the antagonistic relationships which exacerbate them, help to explain how legitimacy plays an important role in both the ‘capability-expectations’ and the ‘normativity-outcomes’ gaps that are said to afflict EU foreign policy. This article seeks to provide a conceptually-rich discussion of these legitimacy tensions and present empirical examples through a case study on the issue of human rights and democracy in Central Asia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-570
JournalJournal of European Integration
Issue number5
Early online date24 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


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