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Abstract

European Union Member States have committed themselves, individually and collectively, to the fight against impunity for serious international crimes. The record is, however, ambiguous: support for the current investigations of the International Criminal Court is uneven and Member States are reluctant to exercise universal jurisdiction and develop binding common policies under the ‘third pillar’. This article assesses the extent of the discrepancy between stated normative preferences and flexible practices. It argues that this discrepancy results from the clash of accountability with other prevailing norms and interests, on the one hand, and from the lack of effective drivers pushing Member States towards increased commitment to combat impunity through a set of social mechanisms such as rhetorical action and socialization, on the other.