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Legitimizing Europe in Contested Settings: Europe as a Normative Power in Turkey?

JCMS Journal of Common Market Studies

Published online on


This article aims to explore whether – and if so, how – the EU is perceived as a normative power (NPE) in Turkey in the context of deteriorating Turkey–EU relations. By adopting the Habermasian understanding that legitimacy is a prerequisite for NPE and through employing a focus group methodology novel to NPE research, the article finds that a certain segment of the Turkish public views the EU as a normative power, suggesting that claims for the existence of NPE need to be qualified both by the level of analysis and by the local context which comprises socio‐cultural factors as well as government/opposition dynamics. The article also shows that contestation of the EU's actorness takes place over moral and ethical‐political arguments rather than utility‐based debates, demonstrating that polarization is noticeably present as far as the EU's normativity is concerned, and not on the perceived costs and benefits of EU accession.