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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?.
The Cases of Malta and Iceland
Luke Walker & Joy Elliott
Master of Arts in Island Studies Candidates
University of Prince Edward Island
“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 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 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.
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.
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
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.
-Graphic from “European Integration.” TakingITGlobal, http://www.takingitglobal.org/themes/eu
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