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By Hartmut Mayer, Henri Vogt

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Extra resources for A Responsible Europe?: Ethical Foundations of EU External Affairs (Palgrave studies in European Union Politics)

Sample text

Furthermore, the above principles (including the one just discussed) suffer from the added limitation that they cover non-voluntarily acquired duties The Problem of Institutional Responsibility 29 only. But we may voluntarily shoulder duties as well. In line with the practice to be found in at least some parts of the pertaining literature, let us distinguish, therefore, such voluntarily shouldered duties from the rest by calling them obligations. For instance, making a promise is a paradigmatic way of acquiring an obligation.

If it is found, therefore, that the EU possesses such a unique capability in a given area, then it incurs the duty of putting that cap-ability to use in that area. Let me also note that there is a pessimistic and an optimistic understanding of the capacity principle. Upon finding that the EU is unable to pursue important tasks or even to contribute to their solution, the pessimistic interpretation argues that it should leave those tasks to other, more capable organisations or possibly states. The ambitious, optimistic interpretation suggests instead that the EU should reform itself so that it can contribute more effectively to the solution of those problems.

21. Although one comes across this version of the argument as well, cf. O’Neill 1986, 59. 22. I am aware that this is an extremely sketchy reconstruction of what the realist theory has to say about the role of states in international relations. It ignores important differences to be found among those who embrace that general theoretical framework. In particular, it ignores the differences between classical realism and structural realism. The other reason why the above gloss is unsatisfying is because it says too little about why realists think that states ought not to respond to moral impulses.

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