Diplomacy: European small is beautiful

28 February 2013 – EUobserver.com (Brussels)

From Germany’s austerity drive to the UK’s planned referendum on EU membership, it is always the big states that get the headlines in EU policy making. But the smaller states are increasingly punching above their weight on the world stage.

Reading the reports from the last summit meeting on the EU budget, one could be forgiven for thinking that there were only three states that matter in EU decision making.

However, in foreign policy, the story behind the headline is increasingly the small states.

The European Council for Foreign Relations' (ECFR) European foreign policy scorecard tracks all the contributions – from EU institutions and the member states – that contribute to the impact of European foreign policy.

Amid a general trend which Scorecard 2013 shows towards member states co-operating on EU foreign policy (in 2012 there was a significant drop in the number of countries rated as slackers on specific policy questions, particularly starkly in the cases of Cyprus, Italy and Poland) a strong story also emerges on the role that smaller states can play in leading initiatives.

While leadership from the big three notably dropped last year, interesting coalitions of smaller member states were instrumental in developing and championing foreign policy initiatives.

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