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Too Small to Make an Impact?

The Czech Republic’s Influence on the European Union’s Foreign Policy

Marek Neuman

Do small EU member states exert influence over the EU’s foreign policy-making process? Ten years after the Czech Republic joined the European Union, Marek Neuman attempts to answer this question by looking into whether Prague succeeded in translating its foreign policy preferences vis-à-vis Russia and the larger post-Soviet space into the EU’s foreign policy making. Looking at three policy portfolios – the EU’s Eastern neighborhood, energy security, and external democratization – he argues that the Czech influence varies across issue areas and time. In studying the role of member states in EU foreign policy formation, he concludes that three master variables – quality of the national preference, ability to position oneself as a norm entrepreneur, and the character of interstate negotiations together with one’s negotiation skills – determine a state’s ability to make a difference in Brussels.
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Chapter Two: Theorizing the European Union’s Foreign Policy Making: A Two-Level Game


“It is probably pointless to seek a single theory of European integration that can capture its dynamic evolution. After all, there is only one case. Rather, we should probably admit that different kinds of theories are appropriate for different pieces of the EU puzzle.”90Wayne Sandholtz

The rapid institutional, procedural, and in-scope development of the European Union over the last sixty years provoked scholars of International Relations to search for causal clarification of the European integrative process in pursuit of theoretical explanations. In the very beginning of theorizing European integration, the accounts that were put forward largely drew on empirical observations. During the first years of the European project, Haas’ Neofunctionalism, which introduced the concept of spillover, was deemed an accurate theoretical explanation for the integrative steps that seemed to linearly increase over time. Not only did Haas emphasize the significance of the spillover effect, he also maintained that this was an automatic side effect, which could not be controlled by the individual member states that initially launched the integrative project. From a 1958-perspective, he was able to predict that “spillover may make a political community of Europe.”91 When EU integration effectively came to a halt a few years later, Neofunctionalism lost ground and scholars began to search for a theoretical explanation that would incorporate previously omitted variables, such as demographic, nationalistic, and historical considerations. Stanley Hoffmann began discrediting the automaticity of spillover, distinguishing between ← 51 | 52 → two logics: the logic of integration and the...

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