Too Limited, Too Late: Evaluating the Czech Republic’s Performance as a Small-State Lobbyist in EU External Policy
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The article proposes a classification of interest promotion methods used by small EU member states which draws on lobbying literature in order for us to better understand how small states pursue their preferences in Council negotiations. It explores a single case study of the Czech Republic’s efforts to influence the 2012 revision of the European Union’s Generalised System of Preferences scheme through the lenses of this classification. The empirical part of the paper is based on original research interviews with European and Czech stakeholders who participated in the studied negotiations. While the dossier was considered important, the Czech Republic failed to employ more elaborate methods of interest promotion and thus came away with a sub-optimal outcome. Rather than explaining this by pointing to a lack of socialization of Czech representatives (and thus a lack of effective competence), this deficiency can be better explained by the low salience of the general policy area for the Czech Republic, which prevented the country from developing a favourable position from which to react promptly to the related developments and deploy the lobbying tools at its disposal. The article suggests that the lobbyist-like character of a small member state’s performance in the Council may have wider consequences for the flexibility of the country’s EU policy and the ability of its governments to pursue specific European policies.