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Microstates in Negotiations beyond the Nation-State: Malta, Cyprus and Luxembourg as Active and Successful Policy Shapers?

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image of International Negotiation

Malta, Cyprus and Luxembourg are sovereign states with less than one million inhabitants and, consequently, are often referred to as “microstates.” This article inquires into the negotiation activities and conditions for success of microstates in negotiations beyond the nation-state. It develops a set of hypotheses on negotiation activity and on negotiation success and tests them qualitatively by drawing on the example of day-to-day negotiations in the European Union. Luxembourg is considerably more active than Malta and Cyprus. This is due to differences in domestic coordination practices (performance and cooperation between lead ministries and Permanent Representations), as well as different negotiation styles (proactive vs. reactive). Microstates can be influential, if they actively participate in negotiations for issues of high importance and if they select effective strategies in the given setting. Thus, microstates can sometimes turn into successful shapers of law beyond the nation-state ‐ despite their slimmer administrations, fewer staff and ‐ on average ‐ negligible bargaining power.

Affiliations: 1: School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin Dublin 4 Ireland, Email:


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