The EU has consistently struggled to forge a foreign policy narrative which promotes internal cohesion and supports the EU’s efforts to exert international influence. The 2016 EU Global Strategy is the latest iteration of collective efforts to tie strategy and purpose to the EU’s coherent identity in the world. This study compares the EU’s strategic narrative of peace and security with narratives about the EU, held in the EU’s Strategic Partners in Asia. Whilst we find reasonable coherence in the EU’s projection of the international system and its role in it, its identity as an actor, and its response to policy issues on the ground, views from Asia largely contest these claims. This article employs a strategic narrative approach to conceptualise and empirically trace how the formation, projection and reception of EU narratives are part of broader circuits of communication through which EU might be recognised, legitimised, and achieve influence.