Small States and the Art of Influence in the EU

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceeding


Are there special ways of exerting influence for small states in a complex multi-actor governance system such as the EU? Intergovernmental theories of European integration emphasize great power nota bene the Franco-German axis, but other observers suggest that smaller member states may actually use the EU institutions to their advantage. Based on literature about small states in international relations, literature about asymmetric negotiations, and more EU specific literature, it will be argued that a combination of, firstly, well prepared strategies; secondly, to supply information within specific issue-areas (with the help of experts); thirdly, strive for norm-compliance and honest brokerage (which is supposedly easier for smaller member states); and fourthly, to use institutional opportunities that exists within decision-making procedures within the EU, contributes to the influence capacity of smaller states. These persuasive techniques – the Art of Influence – can be used by all types of states but it seems that smaller states use them more frequently. Smallness is relevant only from a comparative perspective, but it is not size per se but the action and strategic choices made by small states trying to promote national interests within an international organization that is interesting. Empirically, Sweden and Irelands Council presidencies will be compared with the French and the Italian, to understand small and large states performance and different working methods in the EU. The empirical design sets the frames for what can and cannot be said about these conditions, but a comparison of Swedish and Irish attempts to engage in agenda-setting and alter EU policy-making will advance the understanding of when, where and how, traditionally less influential small states exert national interests within this organisation. The overall purpose is to find mechanisms of influence and advance the understanding of small states’ advantages and disadvantages in the EU.


  • Matilda Broman
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2005
Publication categoryResearch
EventNOPSA XIV - Reykjavik, Iceland
Duration: 0001 Jan 2 → …


ConferenceNOPSA XIV
Period0001/01/02 → …