Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived on Thursday June 1 at the summit of the European Political Community (EPC) which brings together around fifty European leaders in Moldova, a country bordering Ukraine.
A much broader gathering than the European Union (20 invited countries in addition to the 27 members), this informal body, imagined by French President Emmanuel Macron, brings together countries with very different profiles and backgrounds: Armenia, Georgia, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, Serbia, Azerbaijan…
Guests include candidates for membership (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia) as well as members of the European Economic Area (Iceland, Norway). Three new countries are included for the first time: Monaco, Andorra, San Marino.
The idea of the community had emerged on May 9, 2022, when France assumed the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, between January and June 2022. This date corresponds to Europe Day, which commemorates the Schuman declaration, considered as the founding text of European construction.
Cooperation around similar values
As during its first edition in Prague in October 2022, the CPE will give rise to a “family photo”. At the end of the first meeting, the French president had hailed “the unity of the 44 European countries” and already “very clearly stated their condemnation of Russian aggression”.
Josep Borrell welcomed the initiative, a first step towards building a “new security structure in Europe without Russia”, which “put itself outside the community” by invading the Ukraine, according to the head of European diplomacy. Belarus, a close ally of the Kremlin, is also excluded from the CPE.
The next meetings will take place in Spain and then in the United Kingdom, to establish an alternation between host countries that are members of the EU and nations that do not belong to it. The aim of the EPC is to establish cooperation between the EU and States sharing similar values. The areas concerned are varied, from energy to security and transport.
An inextricable purgatory?
This new organization was debated at the time of its creation, particularly in eastern Europe, where it is feared that it will serve as an inextricable purgatory for countries wishing to join the EU. Officially, the purpose of the CPE is however to offer a first form of integration to countries whose economy is not robust enough to integrate the Union.
Defenders of the European Political Community further argue that it includes countries such as the United Kingdom and Switzerland, which have no vocation to integrate the EU. Proof in their eyes that the EPC is not intended to serve as a consolation prize for States which would remain perpetually excluded from the Union.