Small States in the European Union: Coping with Structural Disadvantages

By Diana Panke | Go to book overview

Chapter 10
Conclusions

Every International Organisation is composed of both big and small states. While big states often capture the limelight in international affairs, we know little about the role of small states in negotiations beyond the nation-state. This is surprising, since small states are interesting to study not only because there are so many of them, but also because they grapple with a series of size-related obstacles when participating in international negotiations. When it comes to international negotiations, small states have to contend with having lower than average political weight, fewer economic and financial resources as well as fewer personnel for the preparation and conduct of negotiations and, thus, a higher workload for individual negotiators than big states. These factors render active and effective participation in negotiations more difficult for small than for big states. We know that the interests of big states are often accommodated in EU negotiations (Thomson et al. 2006, Moravcsik 1998) and that big players such as China or the US have been decisive for the endgame of the most recent climate change negotiations. Small states however cannot equally rely on the shadow of their power to influence policies even towards the end of negotiations. Hence, actively making their voice heard through persuasion, bargaining or lobbying strategies and doing so from early on in the day-to-day negotiations (the working groups of the EU or of the climate change regime) is an important pre-requisite for small states to successfully influence policies in line with their positions. Against this backdrop and because we know considerably less about small than big states, this book analysed on the role of small states in negotiations beyond the nation-state. Empirically, the book focused on the EU and analysed the role of the 19 small member states in the day-to-day negotiations in working parties and COREPER, where the bulk of policy decisions are made.

In a first step, this book examined differences in the negotiation activities of small states. Are some small states more active in negotiations in the Council of Ministers than others and, if so, why? A comprehensive survey conducted among the EU member states shows that Denmark, Ireland and Belgium apply a broad range of negotiation strategies significantly more often than Greece, Bulgaria, Portugal or Slovenia. This is puzzling, since the states are all small and, consequently, face size-related disadvantages. Why is it, for example, that Ireland is more active than Portugal? Why are some states activity leaders, while others use persuasion, bargaining or lobbying strategies much less frequently? In a second step, the book analysed the nexus between negotiation activities and negotiation success and focused on the following research questions: Under which conditions are the different strategies that small states apply effective? Are some small states

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