Big versus Small: Shared Leadership in the EU and Power Politics in the Convention

Part of the Palgrave Studies in European Union Politics book series (PSEUP)


The European Union (EU) is a strange mix. A political construct conceived as a guard against the temptation of hegemony by any member state against any other(s), it relies most fundamentally on the ideal of shared leadership. In the EU, therefore, the principle of equality between states is not mainly grounded in the sovereignty norm as in classic intergovernmental organizations, but rather in the attempt to constrain power. At the same time, however, the EU obeys a stringent reality principle, whereby institutions and decisionmaking procedures must reflect power realities in order to be effective and credible. It would thus be hard to argue that the EU has transcended power politics: the taming of power is the best it can do. Thus, behind the ‘big versus small problem’, the conflicting views over institutional design between more and less populated member states, lies an age-old dilemma faced by all political communities, especially federal constructs (Magnette and Nicolaïdis 2004a).


European Union Member State Small State European Council European Parliament 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Simone Bunse, Paul Magnette and Kalypso Nicolaïdis 2006

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations