The EU is a distinct actor in global politics. Researchers have developed different concepts to explain its sui generis nature. All approaches, however, converge in the sense that the EU has acted as an important transformative power that altered political preferences in member and candidate countries and informed dominant policy paradigms that organise state-market relations in its sphere of influence. This study argues that the EU’s transformative power is under stress as never before due to the internal and external political economy challenges. From an internal point of view, the way in which the euro crisis and migration waves were managed dramatically jeopardized the solidarity ethos in the EU. From an external point of view, the changing international order and the rise of emerging powers weaken the appeal of the EU governance model in global politics.