November 23, 2017
A Case for Europe’s Small States
in the third Millennium
An academic Cooperation of CEPROM and ECAEF
The II. ECAEF/CEPROM Conference (International Jacques Rueff Conference) was an academic one-day co-operation of CEPROM (Center of Economic Research for Monaco) and ECAEF (European Center of Austrian Economics Foundation, Liechtenstein). It took place at the Musee Oceanographique de Monaco, Principality of Monaco, on November 23, 2017.
Introduction by Kurt Leube | Defined in broad terms the small states of Europe are countries that have little territories and small populations – usually both – but enjoy sovereignty, international recognition and share all or at least most of the features of larger states. This differentiates them from other small political entities such as overseas territories or special administrative regions.
Europe is home to the five smallest continental states in the world that have been autonomous or independent for most of their centuries long history and were rarely invaded: Vatican City, Monaco, San Marino, Liechtenstein and Andorra. The majority of them ranks among the most prosperous states in the world. Though, more often than not these small states were situated in places, unattractive to larger surrounding nations and repeatedly military powers left them more or less alone, sometimes for centuries. However, geography alone was not enough to allow small states to survive for centuries on a tumultuous continent. Their development and endurance are mostly due to at least four major factors: Political genius, legal systems that serve the people, accountability and trade.
Due to the fact that small states are more flexible, more able to weather economic storms, and less capable of waging serious wars, they are more accountable to their people and more creative. It seems to be no coincidence that on the whole there is more entrepreneurial spirit, individual freedom or trustworthiness to be found among the people living in small states. These virtues can only be discovered and self-responsibility practiced in matters with which most residents are familiar and where the consciousness of one’s neighbor rather than some distant knowledge of the need of other people, guides their actions. Citizens will typically take an actual part in public affairs only when they concern their own social and physical environment. However, the faster these feelings of social cohesion between individuals or groups dry up the resolution of social problems will increasingly be assigned to an omnipotent and thus inevitably intrusive bureaucracy. Where the range of political measures expands beyond an endurable size and swell so large that the necessary knowledge to cope with them is more or less under the control of a huge administration, the commitment and creative ideas of private persons must necessarily fade away.
However, the recent quelling of secessionist movements reveals Europe’s different course. Europe (i.e. the EU) seems to be bound to spread out even more of the toxic effects of centralization, synchronization or redistribution. The thinly veiled duplicity of routinely used words makes it easier for policy makers of large political unions to ever expand the role of an all-powerful government. By ways of progressively pushing for more harmonization and centralization of tax issues and welfare or of forcing people to abandon their local customs, rights and traditions, Europe not only surrenders her classical liberal heritage. In its current course, the EU is also bound to destroy Europe’s vital remnants of individual freedom, competing markets and her entrepreneurial spirit.
To understand the prophetic power of Friedrich A. von Hayek’s (1899-1992) vision, we need to ponder about his statement that serves as subtitle for the conference. To his quotation “We shall all be the gainers if we can create a world fit for small states to live in”, we should not only add that minimizing the aggregation of power would also make us safer. We should also oppose the making of ever-larger political alliances, in the belief that this will bring peace and security.
At the recent II. International ECAEF/CEPROM Conference in Monaco, some of the internationally most renowned scholars and experts in the field have analyzed and discussed the philosophical underpinnings, the current condition and the future of the European Small States. The following papers for download are in the original version and have not been edited.
Academic Director of the conference
You can download the conference papers:
by Detmar Doering
Small, Sovereign and Resilient: Lessons from the not-so wild Wild West
by Terry L. Anderson
Decentralization, Subsidiarity, Secession: States in Knowledge-Based Societies
by Karl Peter Schwarz
Is Small Still Beautiful? A Swiss Perspective
by Henrique Schneider
Limited Places offer Unlimited Thoughts
by Carlos Gebauer
by Michel Hunault
Reflections on Smallness
by Antonio Martino