A pivot to a wider Europe – EURACTIV.com

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In this week’s edition: An enlarged Europe on the agenda, post-EUCO fallout, more sanctions.


Enlarged Europe against 2.

When more than 40 leaders gathered this week to launch the European Political Community (EPC), they may have just come from found a promising consultation platform for conversation between all European states except Russia and its close ally Belarus.

Although leaders struggled to maintain a fully united front throughout the meeting, for diplomats the presence of so many European countries was the main message.

But with the the next three peaks set and with such a cast of characters, questions still swirl around the future of the platform as it’s still unclear how the work will continue and whether EU members, who make up the bulk of the new club , will eventually dominate long-term debates.

“At the moment the deliverable is to talk to each other, we cannot underestimate the importance of personal relationships at this level”, Ricardo Borges de Castro, The head of Global Europe, European Policy Centre, told EURACTIV.

“In the long term, once there is a need to really address certain political issues, there might be a need for more structure, but in the current circumstances the format is a good innovation because leaders can meet in a very intimate way,” he said.

While some see the new format as an opportunity for coordination within Europe on other geopolitical issues beyond Ukraine, for others such discussions at the wider European level are not welcome. .

British officials have said they do not want to see the European Political Community take institutional root. Several leaders have confirmed that this will not happen.

“It’s not about creating a new institution with an administration, a bureaucracy and a lot of people doing the preparation and the follow-up,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told reporters. “It’s about heads of state and government talking to each other.”

A brainchild of President Emmanuel Macron, France had hoped the forum would be an opportunity to start a strategic conversation across the region, which he said had been lacking in the past.

The idea is inspired by a long-held vision in Paris of Europe playing an independent role in global affairs, separate from allies in Washington and potential enemies like Russia and China.

Those who feared French domination were surprised.

Macron navigated smartly throughout the rally, pushing diplomatic progress here and there but keeping the ball low enough not to clutter the front row.

“President Macron sees the EPC as part of his legacy, he will continue to defend European sovereignty throughout his second term, and this is a way to give him tangibility,” said Tara Varma, head of from the Paris office of the ECFR, to EURACTIV.

Asked if Macron could have risked creating a forum that would soon develop a life of its own, Varma said it was in France’s interest for the EPC to become a new European platform.

“France will watch this closely and continue to help shape its agenda,” she added.

But while no one involved in the process knows whether the format will be a long-term success or how it might develop, it shows a critical pivot towards wider Europe.

EU candidate countries, fearful that the format will end up replacing enlargement, could for now be reassured given the focus on non-EU countries.

EU hopefuls, especially the Western Balkans as well as Ukraine and Moldova, made it clear from the start that they aimed to join the EU as soon as possible and would not just sit in the vacuum between EU membership and the new EPC.

“At the same time, what the CPE shows in this respect is that there is no desire for EU leaders to consider enlargement from a strategic point of view,” said said Borges de Castro, adding that political developments in Turkey would remain “the elephant of the world”. bedroom’.


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THE EU IN THE WORLD

ENERGY TROUBLES | Divisions between member states over the gas price cap and tensions over Germany’s €200bn shield were on full display as EU leaders gathered in Prague for an informal summit to discuss the crisis current energy.

FOUR-WAY MEDIATION | In a new four-way mediation effort to resolve the impasse between Yerevan and Baku, the parties announced that the EU would send a “civilian mission” to Armenia to help demarcate the borders with Azerbaijan.

PENALTIES No. 8 | This week, the EU also agreed to a new round of sanctions against Russia, including an oil price cap, previously opposed by a few maritime member states.

DEFENSE CORNER

BRIDGE ON FIRE | An explosion at the strategic road and rail bridge linking Russia with the Crimean Peninsula over the weekend destroyed sections of road leading traffic in one direction and damaging a crucial supply route for Russian forces in Ukraine.

CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE | Russia’s alleged sabotage of European gas pipelines has the EU scrambling to come up with a plan to protect the bloc’s critical infrastructure.

ANNEX KALININGRAD| On a lighter note, over the past few days Twitter trolls have taken the meme war over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to another level.


WHAT ELSE WE READ


ON OUR RADAR

  • European Commission chief von der Leyen delivers budget speech on EU strategic autonomy
    | Monday, October 10, 2022 | Brussels, Belgium
  • EU-Algeria energy dialogue, with the visit of Commissioner Simson
    | Monday, October 10, 2022 | Algiers Algeria
  • UN General Assembly elects new members to Human Rights Council
    | Tuesday, October 11, 2022 | New York, United States
  • Meeting of NATO Defense Ministers and the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group
    | Wed-Thu, 12-13 October 2022 | Brussels, Belgium
  • European Commission presents annual enlargement package
    | Wednesday, October 12, 2022 | Brussels, Belgium
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)
    | Thursday, October 13, 2022 | Strasbourg, France
  • EU interior ministers meet, likely to discuss Schengen
    | Friday, October 14, 2022 | Luxemburg

PREVIOUS EDITIONS

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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