The Merchant and the Message
Hard Conditions, Soft Power and Empty Vessels as Regards Gender in EU External Relations

  • EPS
  • EW
Category: article
Year: 2017
In journal: SSRN ACCESS EUROPE Research Paper Series


The EU claims to be a normative power which in its external relations acts as a teacher on gender issues. However, in spite of its commitments it does not yet systematically practice what it preaches. Also, the EU does not define but transfers the ‘normal’ as regards gender equality, based on standard-setting by other international and regional organizations. Finally, the EU does not offer an attractive model to others, who sometimes even have developed stronger gender equality norms than the EU. This can be explained by the constraining effect of the EU identity as market power and the concomitant underlying logic. As a result gender equality is considered marginal to trade and security issues. Typically the EU political arena sidelines feminist actors that seek to transform EU policies, and silences feminist voices from third countries. The paper starts with a plea to take gender issues seriously, and to adopt an intersectional approach.


Vleuten, A. van der (2017). The merchant and the message. Hard conditions, soft power and empty vessels as regards gender in EU external relations. SSRN ACCESS EUROPE Research Paper No. 2017/03.

View article on SSRN