The last decade has seen a significant increase in the study of mechanisms of informal differentiation, such as lead groups, for conducting EU foreign and security policies. This policy brief examines these groupings from the perspective of small member states based on data collected from 20 interviews with Czech stakeholders. While informal differentiated integration can contribute to advancing EU foreign policy objectives, it should not become the default go-to approach that avoids the potentially lengthy formulation of a common EU position. The consent, at least tacit, of the non-participating member states should be understood as a necessary condition for the emergence and legitimacy of informal differentiation. The involvement of the EU-level policy actors, or at least of an intensive information flow, should be ensured to strengthen accountability.


1. Introduction: Differentiation in EU foreign, security and defence policies, and challenges for small member states
2. The position of a small member state towards the informal mechanism of differentiated integration
3. Reflections and a way forward

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