Small States in the Modern World

Small States in the Modern World

Vulnerabilities and Opportunities

Edited by Harald Baldersheim and Michael Keating

Small States in the Modern World comprehensively assesses the different modes of adaptation by small states in response to the security and economic vulnerabilities posed by global change. It uses a diverse collection of case studies to explore the complexities of change and to place them in their temporal and geographical context.

Chapter 4: Small states in EU decision-making: how can they be effective?

Diana Panke

Subjects: politics and public policy, international politics, political economy, urban and regional studies, regional studies


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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