Normative Policy Coherence for Development in EU External Policies : A Case Study of the European Union's Development and Trade Policies towards Vietnam

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Title: Normative Policy Coherence for Development in EU External Policies : A Case Study of the European Union's Development and Trade Policies towards Vietnam
Author: Häbel, Sandra
Contributor organization: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences
Doctoral Programme in Political, Societal and Regional Changes
Helsingin yliopisto, valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta
Poliittisten, yhteiskunnallisten ja alueellisten muutosten tohtoriohjelma
Helsingfors universitet, statsvetenskapliga fakulteten
Doktorandprogrammet i politisk, samhällelig och regional förändring
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2018-09-22
Language: eng
Belongs to series: URN:ISSN:2343-2748
Thesis level: Doctoral dissertation (monograph)
Abstract: The global discourse on people-centered development appeals for a normative dimension in donor policies. As a major donor organization, the European Union (EU) presents itself as a normative actor on the global stage. However, it is often criticized for lacking normative practice. This dissertation addresses this criticism and assesses the EU’s normative policy coherence for development by examining norm implementation across development and trade policies. The guiding research questions are the following: Are the EU’s development and trade policies coherent in implementing norms; and if not, why are they incoherent? Normative policy coherence for development is defined as the coherent implementation of EU norms (democracy, freedom, gender equality, good governance, human rights, justice, liberty, non-discrimination, peace, rule of law, solidarity and sustainability) across development and non-development policies. A case study of EU development and trade policies addressing Vietnam is used to illustrate normative policy coherence for development in the transition phase from an EU-Vietnam donor-recipient relationship to a mutual trade relationship. This research contributes to existing literature on policy coherence for development, public policy, normative power Europe and regionalism through the in-depth analysis of normativity in EU policy implementation. It examines EU normative power in the EU-Vietnam relationship with particular focus on normative policy coherence and places this relationship in the context of EU-ASEAN relations. A qualitative methodology is utilized in this dissertation is supported by the case study design within which the congruence method has been used for the analysis. The data set is comprised of European Union policy documents and semi-structured interviews conducted by the author in Brussels, Belgium, and Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, which were coded and analyzed in Atlas.ti. The results show that normative policy coherence for development is undermined for several reasons. First, in policy implementation, norms are seen as a political matter and not as a development or trade matter. In contrast to policy guidelines, which are infused by normative commitments such as respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, subsequent implementation stages do not correspond to this commitment. Second, policy networks, which could function as an opportunity for cooperation and coherence, are split by sector, which reinforces the divide between political, developmental and economic matters and in doing so they undermine normative policy coherence. Third, the EU’s relations with ASEAN do not directly undermine EU-Vietnam relations and, therefore, normative coherence in policies addressed at Vietnam is only indirectly affected by EU interests in ASEAN. Causes for normative incoherence in EU policy implementation can be linked to the institutional divide between political and technical matters, which are reinforced by sectoral divisions in the delegations abroad.NA
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