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date: 06 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the EU's ‘big versus small problem’, or the conflicting views over institutional design between two opposing coalitions: the more- and less-populated member states. It argues that recent rounds of reform have made fundamental changes to the EU's traditional institutional bargain between big and small states, leading to a deepening division between them. While not new – the size cleavage had, after all, played a critical part in dragging out the post-Maastricht institutional agenda – it had never been as explicit as during the Convention which set the scene for the subsequent reform debacle. Indeed, the rift between small and big states may, in part, be blamed for the ratification crisis of the Constitutional and Lisbon Treaties. After eight years of institutional rows and final settlements, the least that can be said is that small states in Europe are left wounded.

Keywords: EU, institutional deign, member states, small states, big states

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