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The beginning of the European Political Community

Future of Europe / DISCUSSION PAPER
Corina Stratulat

Date: 03/10/2022
The European Political Community (EPoC) idea was floated by President Macron back in May to encourage dialogue and cooperation among like-minded EU and non-EU countries on matters of common interest. It will be formally launched in the margins of the upcoming informal European Council summit in Prague, organised by the Czech EU Presidency. With the meeting just days away, the EU is under growing pressure to give some substance to Macron’s bold initiative. For the EPoC to set in motion a positive dynamic for the Union in the unfolding Zeitenwende, participating governments and leaders must take their preparations for the summit seriously. 

This Discussion Paper lays out short, but concrete checklists for all the essential players: Prague should organise bilateral consultations with the different invitees and collect ideas ahead of the summit. The agenda of this initial EPoC meeting should only include a limited number of substantive issues that reflect common concerns in the new geopolitical context transformed by Russia’s war in Ukraine. The organisers should also ensure that participants reserve time to discuss how the new format will run its affairs in the future. 

The details of the EPoC’s operational and governing structure will depend on the level of ambition that the initial participants will choose for the initiative. Establishing a community for dialogue and coordination among partners who might have diverging views and interests but also share security and economic concerns is in itself a valuable rationale for the initiative. And yet the EPoC should aspire to become more than ‘just’ a geopolitical forum for high-level dialogue. Current and potential new members in the future should aim to work in small or broad formations to align their positions in response to challenges that demand joint international action, like the energy crisis, the looming global recession and growing inequality, climate change, shifting demographics, and destabilising technological trends. 

EU leaders should be careful not to turn geography or democratic credentials into exclusion criteria for participants. A more legitimate and effective approach would be for the EU to rhetorically decouple its efforts to contain authoritarian Russia and rethink Europe’s role in the new global order from its desire to defend democracy and serve justice – or risk looking hypocritical in the process. 

Nor should EU leaders use the initiative as an excuse not to deal with internal EU reform or deliver on enlargement. Mustering the courage to embark on a European Convention that might lead to Treaty change would not only help the cause of EU hopefuls – especially if it deals with the Union’s absorption capacity, unanimity principle and lack of democratic acquis – it would also strengthen the credibility of the EU’s efforts to encourage political coordination beyond its borders. That being said, nothing stops the Balkan countries, together with Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, from using their leverage in the EPoC format to negotiate in the margins of this and future EPoC meetings their progress in the accession process.

Read the full paper here.

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