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In or Out? Small Island States and the Expanding European Union. The Cases of Malta and Iceland Luke Walker & Joy Elliott Master of Arts in Island Studies Candidates University of Prince Edward Island. Malta and Iceland: European Island States?.

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in or out small island states and the expanding european union

In or Out? Small Island States and the Expanding European Union

The Cases of Malta and Iceland

Luke Walker & Joy Elliott

Master of Arts in Island Studies Candidates

University of Prince Edward Island

malta and iceland european island states
Malta and Iceland:European Island States?
  • Both islands are at least partially integrated into European:
    • Geography
    • History
    • Economy
  • But also separate:
    • Malta as a part of the Mediterranean
    • Iceland<->US relationship
small island states and international and regional organizations
Small Island States and International and Regional Organizations
  • The League
  • The United Nations
the european union
The European Union
  • The European Union model
    • Federation
    • Intergovernmentalism versus Supranationalism
  • The European Commisssion
  • The Council of Ministers
  • The European Parliament
  • The Single Market
  • The Single Currency
  • Foreign Policy Cooperation: CFSP
small island states and the european union the case of malta and iceland
Small Island States and The European Union: The Case of Malta and Iceland
  • Small Islands and Military History: A Question of Realized Security
  • Small Islands and Foreign Policy: A Question of Political Security
  • Small Islands; Small Markets: A Question of Economic Security
small islands and realized security
Small Islands and Realized Security
  • Strategic Importance and non-EU relationships
  • NATO
  • Military Capacity
  • The ideal of Europe
  • The Question of Neutrality
a question of neutrality
A Question of Neutrality

“Malta remains a neutral country with its strict neutrality provisions anchored in the constitution. The first article of the constitution confirms Malta’s adherence to a policy of non-alignment and refusal to participate in any military alliance. A two-thirds majority would be required to change the Constitution.

Although the government has stated its intention to support the objectives of the CFSP (Common Foreign and Security Policy) the principle of neutrality and non-alignment set out in the Maltese constitution could lead to difficulties in future CFSP arrangements of the Union.”

- Report Updating the Commission Opinion on Malta’s Application for Membership

(AVIS 2) – February 1999

small islands and political security
Small Islands and Political Security
  • Membership and Recognition
  • Small Island Foreign Policy
  • Federations, Centralized Governments, and the reality of the Vote.
  • The Maltese Difference
  • Iceland, Identity, and Independence
  • North America
membership and recognition
Membership and Recognition

Small states, far more than larger ones, can actually experience an increase in their actual sovereignty by belonging to a regional organization. Whereas as an individual state they may have little bargaining power, as a group, they have the potential to exercise a greater degree of pressure on the outside world, thus regaining some control of their circumstances often lost by their small size.

small island foreign policy
Small Island Foreign Policy

Small states’ interests are often better served by the international rule of law than by an anarchical international system based on the struggle for power. Hence they tend to exhibit a preference for international organizations and rule-based regimes… However, their policies may not always lead to intended outcomes.

-Roderick Pace. “A Small State and the European Union: Malta’s EU Accession Experience,” in South European Society & Politics, 7.1 (Summer 2002), 24-25.

federations centralized governments and the reality of the vote
Federations, Centralized Governments, and the Reality of the Vote.

The European Union represents, by far, the most comprehensive form of regional cooperation and integration.

Small island states, usually coming into independence politically weak and often economically uncertain, are suspicious of ‘sharing’ their sovereignty for fear that such acts erode said sovereignty.

Complete political autonomy or ‘sovereignty’ over domestic affairs, and much less over the international affairs, of a state is difficult, particularly for extremely small states.

the reality of the vote
The Reality of the Vote

Real or perceived loss of autonomy and the benefits derived from the relationship must be balanced.

Potential for more balance in the relationship between the small island state and the regional body, or the small island state and the larger states that the regional body represents

the reality of the vote1
The Reality of the Vote

EU voting power is proportional to the size of each state

-Graphic from Alfred Mifsud. Malta’s Relations with the EU: A Realistic Way Forward. (Malta: Publishers Enterprises Group, 1999), 77.

the maltese difference
The Maltese Difference
  • Post-Communist states: “implicit guarantee that economic reforms undertaken since the end of communism will not be reversed.
  • Cyprus and the obvious
  • Malta is an established and stable democracy

-Graphic from “European Integration.” TakingITGlobal,

iceland identity independence and the issue of north america
Cautious Icelandic politicians fear that the EU will be an invasive power, reviving concerns of foreign domination

Nordic welfare state

NATO, CFSP, and the “one-man army”

Iceland: A European State?

Questions of North America

Flirtation with NAFTA: A terminal love affair?

Iceland, Identity, Independence and the issue of North America
small islands and economic security
Small Islands and Economic Security

“Do we need the EU to protect us from ourselves?” - Alfred Mifsud

  • Does membership necessarily foster stability? Does anything else foster vulnerability?
  • Open markets: relationship vs. membership
  • Choosing partners: the EU or the rest of the world
a question of capacity
A Question of Capacity
  • Capacity and participation: Small Island States and real participation
  • Capacity and participation: Questions of responsibilities.
  • Size vs. Vote and Voice: The Equality argument.
  • The Inclusiveness resolve
for membership
For Membership
  • Global Power and Influence: The EU as an emerging superpower
  • Improved Social Standards and the pooling of economic and social resources
  • Free flowing movement of people and goods: The Economic Advantage
relationship advantages
Relationship advantages
  • Sovereignty, national independence, and national identity.
  • A Bi-lateral agreement versus the Realities of a qualified vote.
  • CFP and Market Protection: Pieces of the acquis communiataire.
questions of conclusions
Questions of Conclusions
  • Are bi-lateral agreements a solution? Can they be stable enough for a long term arrangement?
  • Is the EU a solution? Is it stable enough for a small island state? Questions of a small state policy.