This article provides a historical reconstruction of the normative dimension (principles, norms, values) of EU-ASEAN relations, with particular reference to the EU’s inclination and attempts to make them an instrument for the diffusion of democracy, human rights and the European model of regional integration in Southeast Asia. Taking into consideration the normative interaction between the two organizations, fueled by particular breaches of democratic principles in Southeast Asia such as the Myanmar case, we focus on the dynamics of construction and de-construction of the EU’s and ASEAN’s political identity, in the framework of the evolution of the interregional relations. The evolution of asymmetry of power relations between the EU and ASEAN is particularly important in this analysis. The gradual rebalancing of power asymmetries between the two organizations, associated with the rising relevance of Southeast Asia and ASEAN on the world stage, has affected the cohesion among member states on normative issues and restricted the EU’s ideational influence on the partner organization. Moreover, this process has induced the EU to adjust its policy towards ASEAN and to rethink the role of European norms in its relations with Southeast Asia.
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