In 1995, the EU 15 and twelve Mediterranean states concluded the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. This agreement involves cooperation in political, economic and cultural matters. It aims at creating a common area of peace, stability and prosperity. This study discusses the concept of the EU as a 'normative' actor and questions its validity. In doing so, it relies on a neo-realist analysis.Democracy promotion, Euro-Mediterranean trade relations and migration are policy areas which, each for its own reasons, deserve special attention in the framework of the Barcelona process. This paper reviews the reality of Euro-Mediterranean relations and compares them with official EU documentation to demonstrate that the concept of the EU as a benign 'normative' actor suffers from severe shortcomings.