JCMS article: Africa-EU relations and Normative Power Europe: A Decolonial Pan-African Critique

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The debate on NPE (Normative Power Europe) has flourished for more than a decade. NPE has shaped Africa–EU relations considerably, especially since the founding of the AU (African Union). Yet while the EU aspires to be a post-imperial, normative power, this postcolonial critique suggests NPE is a neo-Kantian, Eurocentric discourse that reinvigorates an outdated European moral paternalism. The article explores the role of NPE in Africa–EU relations through a Foucauldian conceptualization of knowledge in EU foreign policy, and insists particularly on how pan-African regionalization and NPE led to unwarranted optimism about deploying European norms in Africa. To the contrary, a decolonial perspective reveals that AU–EU inter-regional structural and organizational convergence enchains only frail normative convergence, which will diminish as the pan-African project unfolds further.