Contemporary history of Europe

Small State, Great Diplomacy: The Role of Luxembourg in the European Integration Process

Luxembourg has a particular geopolitical and historical situation — a small, multicultural and multilingual nation sandwiched between two larger powers, France and Germany, with no central bank or national currency. For Luxembourg, adopting an outward orientation had always been a sine qua non. After the second world war the political leaders were convinced of the need to preserve national sovereignty and vital interests by maintaining an international outlook. The European principle of equality among states also guaranteed Luxembourg a role in decision-making and in the leadership of joint organizations. By giving up part of its sovereignty Luxembourg paradoxically actually strengthened its sovereignty. Since then, Luxembourg has played and continues to act as a mediator and a force for ideas at the heart of EU, either as a member State or through some of its leaders. Since the time of Joseph Bech, from Pierre Werner and Gaston Thorn to Jacques Santer and Jean-Claude Juncker more recently, Luxembourg has proved itself to be a master in the art of political consensus and a rich source of leaders who have been able to find a way out of Europe’s successive impasses (among them: the ‘battle of the seats’ of the Community institutions, UK accession, BLEU, Benelux). The influential nature of its leadership gave Luxembourg a role in the European integration process that far outweighed the country’s socio-economic impact

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