This text critically examines the belief that the EU not only has an impact on the international system but also a `normative', `civilian' and `civilizing' power. The contributors question whether this assertion fits with the empirical record or is merely based on anecdotal evidence and whether there is a theoretical basis for the expectation of a `normative' or `civilizing' power. Moving the research agenda forward, the book establishes criteria and assessment standards for examining the EU's international role and its putative normative dimension. Such an endeavour is particularly important against the backdrop of recent developments in European security and defence. The acquisition of military means, or the EU's ambition to acquire such means, might weaken at least the argument that the EU is a `civilian' power and could provoke a shift towards a policy more akin to traditional `great powers.' This book was previously published as a special issue of the Journal of European Public Policy.