In the small field that is small states studies, apparently only a small number study rich small states, “for example, the small states of the EU” (Randma-Liiv and Sarapuu 2019, p.11). “Within Europe, there are 12 states with a population between 100,000 and 3 million: Albania, Cyprus, Estonia, Iceland, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro and Slovenia.” By studying a state such as Luxembourg, for example, many discoveries can be made. Or as Veenendaal and Corbett (2015, p.530) put it, “by studying the systems of understudied nations, instead of those that we already know much about, we are likely to learn much more”.
Unsurprisingly much of what we known is confirmed by the study of Luxembourg. Foremost is the fact that the government of Luxembourg has a shortage of human resources. This is especially evident when one studies the state’s international cooperation. Luxembourg’s embassies, for example, have no military or law enforcement attachés. Instead, the focus is on economic cooperation.
Thus, the generalisation that small states are under “a strong pressure to prioritize” is also confirmed (Randma-Liiv and Sarapuu 2019, p.5). Luxembourg’s armed forces focus on niche specialisations, such as demining and water purification. Or more related to the point just made, the government of Luxembourg tends to pay more attention to economic policy than security policy. Under Jean-Claude Junker resulted in the state’s intelligence agency not being managed by the Prime Minister, which enabled the agency’s executives to conduct illegal operations, including wiretapping and the misuse of public funds for personal business projects.
This said, the third finding that can be confirmed is that small states, despite their prioritisations, have few specialised staff. In fact, this finding seems to apply to all relatively small states – as much as the government of Luxembourg cannot cooperate in all matters with the government of France, the government of France cannot cooperate in all matters with the US government. In interviews with diplomats and military, law enforcement and intelligence liaisons, this is a topic that is constantly mentioned as a limit to security cooperation. When it comes to cooperation with large organisations, smaller states simply cannot cope. They are overnumbered. They are saturated. Ironically, this means that the smaller states, i.e. those with insufficient specialists and insufficient staff in general, must prioritize. They have to decide in which matters cooperation matters (the most).
Finally, the study of Luxembourg confirms the difficulties small states officials face when it comes to the provision of education, and especially specialised professional training. As in many small states, “the limited number of professionals in the civil service makes it economically inefficient and academically impractical to provide specialist education” (Randma-Liiv and Sarapuu 2019, p.7). In security matters, for example, this is seen again and again. Luxembourg’s soldiers have basic training ‘at home’, but their officers (and the state’s three pilots) have go to neighbouring states (France, Belgium, Germany, NATO centres of excellence, etc.) to continue their professional military education. The situation of Luxembourgish detectives and scientific police is even more dire – they are all trained in either France or Belgium. And the situation of Luxembourg’s intelligence officers (i.e. spies) borders on the ridiculous: they are all trained abroad, meaning their ‘cover’ and ‘legend’ are ‘blown’ before they are even created.
All this said, there is one finding that the case of Luxembourg seems to contradict (i.e. falsify). According to Randma-Liiv and Sarapuu (2019, p.6), “all states have their inherent functions which are directly linked to the state’s fundamental interests and where ‘delegating out’ is not viable (e.g. foreign policy, security issues, national culture, court system)”. But in addition to professional training, it is evident that, as in Iceland, many core military and intelligence functions are provided by allies.