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Twenty years ago, in the pages of the, Journal of Common Market Studies, Hedley Bull launched a searing critique of the European Community’s ‘civilian power’ in international affairs. Since that time the increasing role of the European Union (EU) in areas of security and defence policy has led to a seductiveness in adopting the notion of ‘military power Europe’. In contrast, I will attempt to argue that by thinking beyond traditional conceptions of the EU’s international role and examining the case study of its international pursuit of the abolition of the death penalty, we may best conceive of the EU as a ‘normative power Europe’.