Small States in the European Union: Coping with Structural Disadvantages

By Diana Panke | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
Case Studies: How Small States can
Punch Above their Weights

Not all hypotheses on how different negotiation strategies translate into negotiations success could be quantified. To test these hypotheses and in order to trace the causal process between the usage of a strategy, the scope condition for its effectiveness, and its contribution to negotiation success while controlling for the positions and strategies of the other state and EU actors, this chapter presents two qualitative case studies. The studies on the European spirit drinks regulation (COM (2005)125; 32008R0110) and on the pesticides package (COM (2006)373, 388, 52009PC0063, 52009PC0145) analyse, Firstly, how and under which scope conditions different negotiation activities can translate into success and, secondly, how small states can sometimes punch above their weights (for an overview of the empirical results, cf. Table A.2, Appendix).

The ‘Vodka’ and the ‘pesticides’ negotiations started in 2005 and 2006 and were concluded in January 2008 (spirit drinks regulation) and in September 2009 (pesticides package). Both issues were framed as agricultural matters, but were decided through the co-decision procedure. Thus, in both cases the European Parliament was an equally important co-legislator. Small as well as big states had important interests at stake in the negotiations. Yet, the cases differ in three respects. The Vodka case was highly politicised, while the pesticides case was very technical. Thus, the scope conditions for the effectiveness of arguments should differ. In the technical pesticides case, we expect that science-based arguments put forward by states are more likely to be effective vis-à-vis other states, the Commission, the Presidency and the EP than in the politicised spirit drinks case, in which general normative arguments are more likely to persuade others. Also, the spirit drinks case had one major cleavage and several of bilateral ones, whereas the pesticides case had eight major cleavages that were important for many states, in addition to numerous smaller issues. Thus, coalitions are more likely to be stable and important for the final negotiation outcome in the spirit drinks than in the pesticides case. In addition, the spirit drink negotiations were concluded in one reading but went to the ministerial level of the Council as a B item (decision made after debate on the ministerial level of the Council), while the pesticides files required two readings but were A points (decision made without debate on the ministerial level). Hence, due to the longer duration of negotiations in the pesticides case, states had a greater opportunity to apply many different shaping strategies. Since different conditions for the success of the various shaping strategies are present at the different stages of negotiations and in both case studies, the hypotheses can be tested with a most

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