This article focuses on the normative dimensions of European Union (EU) policy on the Mediterranean which, it is argued, give rise to a number of dilemmas and challenges. First, it scrutinizes the core raison d'être behind the EU's regionalist strategy within the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP) context. Second, since it purportedly supplements the EMP, the article examines the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and its associated normative bilateral basis. In doing so, the article attempts to raise a number of broad questions about the nature, purpose and underlying logic of regional integration, the role of norms in international relations, and the changing nature of foreign policy. It is argued that EU endeavours at enhanced relations with southern partners point to the pursuit of a dual strategy: the identification of the EU as a ‘normative power’, on the one hand, and the attainment of political and economic interests, on the other. The challenges of this pursuit may in turn explain some of the main dilemmas facing EU–Mediterranean relations.