A European Political Community for a Geopolitical Era
Barichella A., Prats-Monné X. & Vignon J. 2023 « A European political community for a geopolitical era », Autre document, Institut Jacques Delors & Sciences Po Paris, mai
The inaugural meeting of the European Political Community (EPC) took place on 6 October 2022 in Prague gathering 44 leaders from across the continent together with the President of the European Commission and of the European Council. Against the backdrop of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the gathering sought to strengthen their cooperation on issues of common interest, revolving around peace and security, the economic situation, energy and climate, and migration and mobility.
A second summit of the EPC will be held on 1 June 2023 in Chisinau, Moldavia. One gathering is an event; two is an established feature. It shows that participants value the format and want to build around the EPC to help Europe navigate these geopolitical times.
A gathering of all European leaders in Moldova, a country neighbouring the war, threatened by Russia and candidate to join the EU will send a strong political signal in itself. The photograph will be the message.
The meeting in Moldova will also help anchor the EPC as a forum where leaders can discuss issues that impact the security and prosperity of the continent without prepared speeches or pre-cooked communiques. Where they can have candid exchanges and build a collective understanding of each other’s necessities. The informality will allow for valuable exchanges.
With the next two summits already scheduled, in Spain in the fall followed by the UK during the first semester of 2024, the EPC can become a regular, continental-wide leaders meeting giving political impetus to a European agenda. Beyond the circumstances of the war now prevailing, its format, both informal and intergovernmental, may prove to have an added-value in three ways:
- Discussion forum for strategic matters
The EPC provides the needed informal setting to foster discussion at the highest political level. All leaders attending the Prague summit appreciated this unique opportunity to exchange directly on an equal footing, with no expected immediate result, on the continent’s security and other common matters of strategic interest, such as migration. Favouring personal contacts among leaders in a club-like atmosphere, helps develop a sense of belonging to the same continent, beyond the EU. With the key participation of the UK and of Turkey, it provides the channels of dialogue, outside existing institutional formats, that are necessary for Europe to build its assertiveness and visibility.
- Diplomatic hub for regional disputes
EPC summits offer new opportunities for dialogue for leaders of countries under long and on-going disputes. For instance, the Prague summit allowed for bilateral discussions to develop between Armenian and Azerbaidjan leaders and between Serb and Kosovar leaders with the participation of other peers helping facilitate. Once again, informality provides flexibility, but also peer-pressure to advance solutions.
- Political booster for concrete cooperation
A regular gathering of leaders can also be used to give new impetus to pan-European cooperation initiatives improving the lives of millions of Europeans. The Prague summit has identified seven areas of concrete cooperation in line with the strategic interests of the continent that the EPC is meant to pursue: energy, critical infrastructures, cybersecurity, youth, migration, regional cooperation in the Black Sea and Caucasus.
This note provides suggestions about concrete initiatives that the EPC could articulate on three areas: cybersecurity, youth education and migration. Following the inter-governmental nature of the EPC, the proposed initiatives are conceived as forms of reinforced cooperation among members of the EPC rather than as necessitating specific new organizational structures. Given the numerous initiatives already in existence within and among members of the EPC, the choice of proposed initiatives has been guided by added value. Ultimately these proposals would strengthen the geopolitical visibility of European both for its citizens, as well as for third countries.
This brief has been produced through a dialogue among academics from leading European Universities and Think Tanks from across Europe led by Sciences Po and the Jacques Delors Institute.
Arancha González, Dean, Paris School of International Affairs at Sciences Po
Sébastien Maillard, Director, Jacques Delors Institute
Participants from the following institutions: Civica Alliance of European Universities; Austro-French Centre for Rapprochement in Europe (CFA/ÖFZ)(Austria); CIDOB (Spain); CIRD (Serbia); Cligendael Institute (The Netherlands); Egmont – Royal Institute for International Relations (Belgium); ELIAMEP-Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (Greece); EDAM-Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (Turkey); EU ISS (EU Institute for Security Studies); Global Relations Forum (Turkey); Instituto Elcano (Spain); Istituto Affari Internazionali (Italy); IWM Vienna (Austria); Polish Institute of International Affairs (Poland); SWP- German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Germany).