Deconstructing 'Ideal Power Europe': The EU and its Temporal Selves
This study aims to deconstruct the “ideal power Europe” metanarrative through a second reading of its three temporal selves. The term “ideal power Europe” is employed to reveal how the EU’s story is told in a positive way and how this legitimizes its actions in world politics. Today’s Europe is mainly founded on an idealisation of this historical self and its normative aspirations for the future. The EU’s construction as a successful peace project (its past) and the emphasis on the EU’s ‘aspirations’ (its future) mark the EU’s role in the world today. This paper looks into the interplay between the EU’s three temporal selves (past, present and future) in order to reflect on how the EU’s past (peaceful integration) and future (normative aspirations) selves feed into the construction of its current self as an international actor and empower it to pursue its policies. Its major argument is that the discourse of successful peaceful European integration (which is used to construct the EU’s past self) and the rhetoric on the Union’s normative aspirations (which is employed to represent its future self) help constitute its present identity and legitimize its practices today.