PRC Discoursive Force Against the Normative Force of the EU: The Case of Italy

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2020-64-5-62-72
E. Alekseenkova (,
Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences (IE RAS), 11/ 3, Mokhovaya Str., Moscow, 125009, Russian Federation

Abstract. The article analyzes China’s attempts to confront the EU’s normative power by the example of Italy joining the “Belt and Road Initiative” on March 23, 2019. The author claims that the signing of a memorandum of cooperation between Italy and China was not so much economic as political for both countries and for the European Union as a whole, which was the reason for the public criticism from Brussels of the actions of the Italian leadership. The author concludes that the political significance of the event for China lies in an attempt to publicly “overcome” the EU normative power, and for Italy, in an effort to uphold the principle of national sovereignty and position itself as an actor within the European Union, capable of influencing the process of formation of the EU normative power in interaction with third countries. At the same time, the case of Italy demonstrates that in opposing the EU normative power, the PRC uses a certain discursive strategy, which is to form a social network of trust within the country and increase the amount of social capital to a level that can influence the political decision-making process. The Italian “government of change” in this case turned out to be the most “convenient” partner, since from the very beginning it has built conflict discourse with Brussels, upholding the principle of national sovereignty in foreign and domestic policy, and thereby undermining the effectiveness of the EU normative power. Thus, the signing of the memorandum reveals the weakening of the normative force of the European Union, the effectiveness of which is being questioned not only by the “new” EU members, but also by the political leadership of one of the founding states of the Union. This reflects a very real risk that the development of the ideas of “sovereignty” can harm the EU’s international activity.

Keywords: Italy, PRC, “Belt and Road Initiative”, normative power, discursive power, social networks


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For citation:
Alekseenkova E. PRC Discoursive Force Against the Normative Force of the EU: The Case of Italy. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2020, vol. 64, no. 5, pp. 62-72.

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