Small Countries

Small Countries in Europe

Description of Small countries

The Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union describes small countries in the following terms: [1] Europe’s mini-states are for the most part protectorates of, or otherwise closely linked to, larger European countries. These special relationships determine their arrangements with the Eu (see more in this European encyclopedia). Applications for full EU membership by small but independent states are complicated by their lack of sufficient resources to play a full part in the Community’s governance and by the incongruity of their having equal veto rights with the major nations. Those that enjoy nil or very low tax rates are under persistent attack by member states that believe themselves to be losing revenue as a result of tax avoidance.

Andorra, a republican tax haven, over which until 1993 Spain (in the name of a bishop) and France (in the name of its president) held joint sovereignty, has been part of the Community’s customs union since 1991, but has not applied for EU membership.

The Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey are self-governing crown dependencies and together constitute the leading British-linked tax haven in Europe (see more in this European encyclopedia). Although not part of the EU they enjoy free movement of goods under the UK’s Treaty of Accession. The Isle of Man has a similar status.

Gibraltar falls within the ambit of the Treaty of Rome as a British dependency (ceded by Spain in 1713). A partially self-governing democracy, it is disputed territory between the UK and Spain, a problem exacerbated by its being a peninsula, with its airport on reclaimed land.

Liechtenstein, a principality and a tax haven linked to Switzerland, is a member both of EFTA and (unlike Switzerland) of the EEA. It has not applied for EU membership.

Malta, a former British dependency and a republic since 1974, has had an Association Agreement since 1970. Its application for membership of the EC in 1990 received only a cautious welcome from the Commission, which was troubled by the country’s economic backwardness, its lack of experienced officials, its protectionism and the hostility to the EU of its powerful pro-communist Labour Party. A further problem was its constitutional policy of non-alignment. Nevertheless, Malta is wealthier per head than most other candidate countries and accessionnegotiations are beginning.

Monaco, a principality, a tax haven and a protectorate of France, is in customs union with France but has no formal agreement with the EU.

Other very small European states include the Republic of San Marino, an Italian protectorate in customs union with the EU; and the Vatican City, which is independent.

Small countries and the European Union


See Also

  • Monaco
  • Andorra
  • Malta
  • Liechtenstein
  • Gibraltar
  • Channel Islands


Notas y References

  1. Based on the book “A Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union from Aachen to Zollverein”, by Rodney Leach (Profile Books; London)

See Also

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