Liberal Intergovernmentalism, Illiberalism and the Potential Superpower of the European Union

Sophie Meunier, Milada Anna Vachudova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Andrew Moravcsik has long argued that the EU is the world's second superpower, albeit a quiet and overlooked one. This article explores how the EU behaves as a global power, and how the illiberal turn may diminish it. We present Moravcsik's four core claims about the EU as the second superpower using the lens of Liberal Intergovernmentalism. We argue that the EU is more a potential than an actual superpower because its considerable hard and soft resources are not always converted into global influence. We focus on two challenges to this power conversion, which we illustrate in the areas of trade and enlargement: first, the uneven transfer of competences to the EU level and, second, the presence of illiberal regimes in the EU, which makes it more difficult to agree on common policies and tools anchored in democratic values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1631-1647
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Common Market Studies
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations


  • Enlargement
  • EU
  • superpower
  • trade


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