Why the EU Is Struggling to Compete for Influence in Southeast Asia

Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor-Viorel Melescanu, center, with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, second left, and other delegates at an EU-ASEAN meeting in Brussels, Jan. 21, 2019 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).
Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor-Viorel Melescanu, center, with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, second left, and other delegates at an EU-ASEAN meeting in Brussels, Jan. 21, 2019 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

In the early years of this century, there were suggestions that the European Union could play the role of a “quiet superpower,” and even speculation that Brussels might become a hegemonic rival to the United States. Now, with the rise of China and talk of a new Cold War brewing between Washington and Beijing, the EU’s place in the world is looking dramatically less imposing. For some experts and observers, the EU continues to be a “civilian power,” given its nonmilitary capabilities, or a “normative power,” referring to its historical role in helping to shape global norms on human rights […]

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