EU to invite next UK PM to summit on new pan-European security body | Europe

The EU will offer an olive branch to the new British Prime Minister with an invitation to a summit to discuss a new organization uniting the democracies of the European continent.

The next British Prime Minister, widely expected as Liz Truss, will be invited to join other European leaders at a summit in Prague on October 6 to forge a European Political Community, a body dedicated to promoting security on the continent.

Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, said he was confident the UK would be invited to the Czech capital despite “difficulties” over the Northern Ireland protocol.

Speaking in an interview with the Guardian and other European media, he said it was obvious the UK had to be there. Michel said: “Even though we have discussions and difficulties about this [NI protocol] topic; from a broader perspective, there is no doubt that we are friends and that we must continue to act together.

Michel is a close political ally of French President Emmanuel Macron, who in May sketched out the idea of ​​a European Political Community that would include all of the continent’s democracies, including Ukraine and other candidates for EU membership. EU in the Western Balkans.

If Truss is ranked No. 10 by Conservative party members, as opinion polls widely predict, her response to the invitation will be an early sign of her stance on Europe.

As Foreign Secretary, Truss gave a speech on Britain’s allies that avoided mentioning the European Union. During the Tory leadership race, she caused astonishment and dismay among British diplomats when she said ‘the jury is still out’ whether Macron was friend or foe of the Kingdom -United.

Michel, a former Belgian prime minister, struck a similar tone to the French president, who said he would not hesitate for a second to describe Britain as a friend. “The UK is a friend, a partner, a like-minded partner,” Michel said.

The invitation to a gathering of EU leaders on October 6 – immediately after the Conservative Party conference – contrasts with an earlier decision not to invite Boris Johnson to an EU summit Joe Biden attended earlier this year.

While EU diplomats agree on Britain’s invitation to the rally, the issue of Turkey’s inclusion is more contentious. Greece and Cyprus, embroiled in long-standing differences with Ankara, oppose inviting Turkey, which remains an official candidate for EU membership, although talks have stalled for years. years. Michel said the EU should invite Turkey, but he wanted “to make sure there is support from all colleagues”.

The rest of the guest list is simple: there will be invitations for Norway and Switzerland, non-EU countries deeply integrated into the single market, as well as nine countries wishing to join the EU, including Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and six western countries. Balkan states, plus non-candidate Armenia and Azerbaijan.

While some feared the European Political Community would simply replicate existing pan-European bodies, such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Michel suggested leaders wanted an informal and “very flexible” body, resembling the G7. or the G20.

He said, “We don’t want a complicated structure.

The war in Ukraine put security at the top of the fledgling organisation’s priorities, but Macron also suggested the body could promote the free movement of young people, as well as joint work on transport and energy.

The invitation to the Prague summit signals no EU changes to the disputed Northern Ireland protocol. EU officials are pessimistic about a resumption of relations by either candidate vying to be prime minister, particularly Truss, the architect of a bill to unilaterally overturn the protocol.

Michel, who is not involved in the Northern Ireland protocol talks, said he expected the UK to stick to the deal signed in 2019.

“I think there are so many difficult challenges in the world. We don’t need any more difficulties. Our position is very clear: we have an agreement with the United Kingdom and we are convinced that a great democracy respect the international rule of law.

Using the Latin formula dear to EU officials, which is a fundamental principle of international law, he added: pacta sunt servandaagreements must be respected.

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