The Baltic Region

2017 Vol. 9 №1

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Coalition Within a Coalition: The Baltics in the European Union



This article gives an overview of small power problem focusing on the behav­iour of small power states within coalitions and their proneness to free riding. To pursue an independent agenda and increase their significance within large associa­tions, the authors argue, small powers tend to create ‘coalitions within coalitions’, essentially acting as free riders and transferring costs and political responsibility for decision-making to larger players. Such an asymmetric strategy makes it possi­ble for small powers to advance their interests within alliances and save resources. The authors test this hypothesis on the behaviour of the Baltics in the European Union. It is demonstrated that Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have created a stable small coalition within the EU and actively form ad hoc alliances with the leading states to push union-level decisions, as it was the case with settling the migrant issue. In other areas, these states tend to benefit from the free rider behaviour.


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