A Small Member State and European Foreign Policy: Shaping or Taking? The Case of Belgium and the African Great Lakes

in The Hague Journal of Diplomacy
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Abstract

The European integration process has altered the conditions under which national foreign policies in Europe are made. Departing from this assumption, this article explores whether and under what conditions a small EU member state can influence European foreign policy. To this end, the role that Belgium has played in the construction of European foreign policy towards the African Great Lakes is examined. This article argues that a small EU member state can significantly influence European foreign policy, resulting in reinforcement of its national foreign policy. Yet this influence is conditioned by two intertwined factors: the nature of EU involvement; and the characteristics of the Union's foreign policy system. Depending on these elements, a small member state can supersede the quantifiable notion of 'smallness' and actively shape the construction of European foreign policy.

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