This article examines the impact of the European Union's (EU) external dimension of social policy both in terms of discourse and practice and compares it with the social policy advisory activities of other global actors: the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The article evaluates how far the EU's external dimension of social policy is impacting on the social reform process in a new EU Member State, Lithuania.1 The influence of the EU on Lithuanian social policy development is then compared with that of other national and international actors. Two central arguments are developed in this article. First, although the European Social model is narrow in terms of legislation, but has been broadened through ‘soft’ law. In terms of discourse, this is being transposed to the external dimension of social policy. In practice, however, this European vision has not been fully reflected in the social policy actions of the PHARE programme nor was it emphasised much in negotiations. Secondly, the article holds that the EU, as well as other actors, does have a significant influence on the social reform process in Lithuania, particularly when it coincides with the dominant discourses propagated nationally. However, this influence does not fully reflect the EU's discourse on the external dimension of social policy and is not as influential as the activities of other global actors.