Yesterday, the first meeting of the European Political Community (EPC) was held at Prague Castle, where many of Europe’s leaders were welcomed by the Czech Republic’s Prime Minister, Petr Fiala, for a day filled with strategic networking, bilateral tête-à-tête’s, and political discussions.
A prelude to the EU’s Heads of States meeting today, yesterday’s new forum brought the leaders of wider Europe together in the “spirit of unity.”
The idea for the EPC was first put forward by French President Emmanuel Macron, and was then discussed at the European Council meetings in June earlier this year.
An Elysée representative said in a press conference on Wednesday this week that the EPC is intended to function much like the G7. Some have suggested it could advise global bodies such as the IMF and World Economic Forum.
The EPC aims to “foster political dialogue and cooperation to address issues of common interest” and “strengthen the security, stability and prosperity of the European continent.”
À Strasbourg le 9 mai dernier, le Président @EmmanuelMacron a proposé la création d’une Communauté politique européenne pour permettre davantage de coopération et de dialogue entre l’ensemble des pays du continent européen. À Prague aujourd’hui, elle est désormais réalité. pic.twitter.com/7hwI7XeS5r
— Élysée (@Elysee) October 6, 2022
The heads of all European states, excluding Russia and Belarus, were formally invited to attend the meeting by a letter sent from European Council President Charles Michel, who stressed the importance of the forum by saying, “we share the same continent, and we face the same challenges.”
As well as the many leaders in attendance at the summit, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky also dialed into the meeting via videolink.
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As for the summit’s agenda, a couple of hours was dedicated to roundtable talks to address the common issues faced by the continent, as well as an additional three hours of time slots allocated for leaders to schedule private one-to-one’s with each.
Some of the talking points expected to be covered include:
- The threat to peace and security posed by conflict on the continent, such as the war in Ukraine.
- The increasingly worrying energy and economic situation, and it’s spin-off cost-of-living crisis.
- Migration and mobility across the continent.
- The collective climate challenges we face along with the rest of the world.
Peace and security and the energy crisis were two of the main issues focused on in discussions, with Russia’s war in Ukraine also dominating discussions. Leaders spoke of the fallout of the conflict, strengthening sanctions on Russia and weakening their military capabilities, as well as continuing support for Ukraine.
One of the discussions held, saw the Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia meet with the President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, as well as President Macron and EU Council Chief Michel. In the meeting, Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed to cooperate on a civilian EU mission on the border with Azerbaijan, which will start in October.
Pour une paix durable dans le Caucase. pic.twitter.com/ZRCy9b3vv5
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) October 6, 2022
The UK’s newly appointed Prime Minister Liz Truss was also in attendance. Truss stated: “This is not about moving closer to Europe.” She went on to say:
“What this is about is about working with all of our European partners to challenge [Vladimir] Putin’s appalling war in Ukraine, but also to work together on the issues that we all face – huge energy costs, rising inflation and also migration across our continent.”
“Having the UK being engaged in a lot of common initiatives, I think does make sense both for the UK and for us also, because we do share the same continent … I do hope this is a new phase of our common relations and that this is the beginning of the day after.”
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the EU Commission, also showed her support for the European Political Community initiative, joining discussions and meeting with leaders of Serbia, Georgia, Turkey and Norway individually.
At this critical juncture, we must rethink and reshape energy security in Europe.
Norway is our close, reliable partner in this.⁰
Through our joint Task Force, we continue to explore workable ways to stabilise energy markets.
🇪🇺 🇳🇴 My joint statement with @jonasgahrstore ↓
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) October 6, 2022
The full spectrum of European nations were in attendance and engaging in dialogue, and the show of solidarity and emphasis on unity was apparent.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said: “if you just look at the attendance here, you see the importance.”
European Council President, Charles Michel said:
“At a time when Europe’s stability and security is being threatened, we need more dialogue, more listening, more mutual understanding, not less. And that’s what we achieved at the first European Political Community.”
The next EPC meetings are expected to be held in Spain and the UK. The Meeting of the European Political Community also took a “family photo:”
Correction: This article (including title and subtitle) has been considerably reworked, refocused and amended since publication to avoid assumptions and clarify the significance and key outcomes of the EPC summit.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: UK Prime Minister Liz Truss and French President Emmanuel Macron at the European Political Community Featured Photo Credit: Number 10/Flickr