Although Liechtenstein’s population is only a fraction of the smallest other EEA member, it has to fulfil the same legal obligations and is equally represented in the institutional setup of the EEA. European integration of a very small state like Liechtenstein faces two major difficulties: first, the contracting parties have to respect the sovereignty of every (small-sized) member state even though this may contradict the idea of an adequate (at least of a proportional) democratic representation of their citizens. Second, the very small states themselves have to prove their ability to implement the respective acquis in order to fulfil all obligations set out by an integration model. Thus far, the analysis has been limited to the second aspect. In a nutshell, I argue that a very small state may have little human resources and thus limited administrative capacity but can still ensure a highly efficient bureaucracy in order to comply with international obligations. However, the analysis of Liechtenstein’s membership in the EEA also shows that Liechtenstein has by far the most opt-outs of all EEA members. Moreover, most of those opt-outs are related to the smallness of Liechtenstein and an incremental part of Liechtenstein’s strategy to cope with its international obligations.
Project duration: since 2014