Vulnerabilities and Opportunities
Edited by Harald Baldersheim and Michael Keating
Chapter 4: Small states in EU decision-making: how can they be effective?
The European Union is sometimes regarded as a system sui generis. While this characterization is appropriate in regard to some of the supranational institutional properties of the EU, in many other respects the EU is similar to other regional organizations (ROs), such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) or the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), or to international organizations (IOs) such as the International Labour Organization (ILO), the World Trade Organization (WTO) or the International Whaling Commission (IWC) (Hix 2006; Cini 2007; Wunderlich 2012). In ROs, states cooperate with one another on a regional basis, while states cooperate on a functional basis in IOs in order to tackle common regional or policy-field-specific problems respectively through the creation of binding or non-binding norms. Moreover, the EU, just like each RO and IO, is composed of both big and small states, and, as in most ROs and IOs, there are many more smaller than bigger players. Size is a social construct and context dependent. Not only can the property that defines a state as big or small vary (e.g. economic power, military power, voting power), but size is also an inherently relational concept and therefore only meaningful in regard to a specific group (Panke 2012b, 2012e).
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