Contending metaphors of the European Union as a global actor: Norms and power in the European discourse on multilateralism

E. Barbé*, A. Herranz, M. Natorski

*Corresponding author for this work

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The legitimacy crisis that existing institutions of global governance are undergoing has led the European Union (EU) to place the idea of "effective multilateralism" at the heart of its foreign policy doctrine. This article draws inspiration from debates on the notion of power in International Relations to expose the normative dilemmas behind multilateralism in EU foreign policy. To do this, the article systematically analyses the metaphors on the EU's role in global governance that are present in political speeches that address the question of multilateralism during the period 2004 to 2011. This analysis shows that the most sedimented metaphor on the EU's role as a promoter of multilateralism - the EU as MODEL - is precisely the one that entails the most serious normative concerns from the perspective of the ideal traits of multilateralism described in the literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-40
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Language and Politics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Discourse-Historical Approach
  • European Union
  • Global Governance
  • Metaphors
  • Multilateralism
  • Power

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