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Small states in EU policy-making: Strategies, Challenges, Opportunities



The European Union both offers benefits and poses challenges to small member states. On the one hand, from the perspective of shelter theory, the European Union contributes to the security of small states and provides benefits of ‘scale’, such as access to a larger market. On the other hand, the question is to what extent small states can influence decision-making in a Union that contains many states and, in particular, much more populous states.

In this context, the aim of the workshop is to analyze the strategies of small states in European Union politics now that the many ‘new’ member states that joined since 2004 have had ample time to settle in. The focus lies on two broad questions, in particular:

What strategies do small states pursue in the various EU institutions to ensure their effective participation in EU decision-making? For instance, how do small states ensure effective representation in the work of the European Parliament with sometimes as little as half a dozen of MEPs? How do they make themselves heard in the Council of Ministers? What are their specific challenges or strategies for holding the Council Presidency?

Secondly, how have small states experienced EU decision-making during the crises of the past decade (e.g. eurozone crisis, migration crisis, Covid crisis)? Especially in the context of the Eurozone crisis, journalistic and academic analyses of EU decisions tend to focus on a standoff between a hegemonic Germany and various crisis-stricken states, or a rivalry between French and German visions. But what about the many small states? Are these portrayals correct and were the small states just passive onlookers? Or is there a role in EU policy-making that is commonly overlooked?

We are particularly interested in comparative contributions.


The aim of the workshop is to produce a special issue or an edited volume.

Interested authors should send a 300-word abstract to by 31 January.

18 - 19 Jun 2021
Call for Papers open until 31 Jan 2021