Power in practice: EU member states’ 2020 early negotiations on Covid-19 burden sharing


  • Ludovica Marchi London School of Economics and Political Sciences, London




approach, European Union, ‘power in practice’, social relations, negotiations, Covid-19


The manoeuvring and the strategies that state actors and their delegates employ when discussing and negotiating practices at the European Union (EU) level clearly respond to their aim of attaining outcomes at that very level. Within that landscape, what makes a country more powerful and persuasive than others, why some states punch above their weight, and how the threads of European diplomacy are concretely moved are unclear processes that the practice approach promises to explain. This investigation employs the practice approach to distinguish ‘power in practice’. It considers power as a development connected to social relations. In fact, it views micro-level diplomatic dynamics as the site from which to observe power. It fills a gap in the field of adopting the practice approach in EU studies by contributing to theory through showing the approach’s policy performance. It asks the central question of ‘whether power resources emerge out of constant work and negotiation’. It applies the practice approach to the early 2020 negotiations in the EU arena on burden sharing linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. It argues that what is at stake in the course of the negotiations is a complex social game, in which manoeuvring for diplomatic competence becomes an end in itself.