In recent years, a growing literature has focused on how the EU is perceived beyond its borders. One of the aims of these studies is to shed light on the ability of the EU to exercise external influence. This working paper argues, however, that outsiders’ perceptions of the EU are not necessarily a reliable guide to the EU’s external influence. It illustrates the argument by examining the case of climate change in which, despite broadly positive external perceptions, the EU has often failed in attempts to influence the positions of other states. Focusing on Chinese and Indian perceptions of the EU, the current paper argues that this apparent tension results from the fact that the EU on the one hand, and China and India on the other, have framed global climate governance in starkly contrasting ways. In particular, they have differed with respect to whether “climate leadership” by the EU should generate “followership” on the part of China and India. This paper uses the example of negotiations on a “second commitment period” under the Kyoto Protocol to demonstrate this point. It concludes by urging that greater attention be paid to the relationship between external perceptions and external influence.