The normative power Europe concept has greatly enriched the academic debate on what the EU is (should be), what it does (should do) and what impact it has (should have). However, various theoretical, methodological and empirical issues remain insufficiently addressed. This article will address two issues that have mostly been neglected: the perspective of the norm takers (in line with this special issue) and the market norms of the EU. The first section elaborates on these two issues, relying on recent advances in the literature and specifically the contributions by Damro (J Eur Publ Pol 19(5):682–699, 2012) and Rosamond (Brit J Polit Int Relat 16(1):133–148, 2013). Against this background, the second section examines the controversial EU trade negotiations with India. Specifically, this empirical part section focuses on how market liberal norms (government procurement) and cosmopolitan norms (human rights) are being promoted and received. We conclude that in the eyes of the EU, trade agreements could be a means to mitigate partners’ opposition and an eventual stepping stone for successful off-take of international social standards and multilateral procurement liberalization regulations by its partner countries. But, partner countries might not necessarily espouse the EU’s interest-led motivation and lend support to the EU’s desire to effuse multilateral norms through trading agreements. The case study on EU-India trade talks illustrates this, highlighting the divergence between the EU and Indian perspectives and demonstrates India’s lack of enthusiasm to adopt the EU’s preferred model for liberalization.