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What does French President Macron’s proposed ‘European Political Community’ entail?

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EU leaders holding a summit on Thursday began discussing with a mixture of interest and skepticism the idea of ​​a “European Political Community” put forward by French President Emmanuel Macron.

What’s the idea?

Macron presented the European Political Community proposal to the European Parliament on May 9, while the chamber debated Ukraine’s ambition to one day become a candidate for EU accession.

He called it a broad but ‘lean’ decision-making structure for political dialogue and cooperation on matters of common interest to European nations – both within the EU and beyond.

It was not intended to replace EU policies and instruments, he said. Rather, it would organize regular meetings on important topics “to stabilize the European continent,” Macron said during a recent trip to Moldova.

Which countries could participate?

It would include countries that want to join the EU, such as Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and the states of the Western Balkans. But also those who like to be outside, such as Switzerland and Norway, and maybe even former member Great Britain.

There is a question mark over Turkey, a longtime candidate for the EU sitting alongside many European countries in NATO, which has expressed interest in the idea. But Macron has maintained that the forum would only be for countries that share the EU’s “democratic values”.

How was it received?

Reactions to the proposal range from interest to caution, sometimes with skepticism. But the general response was to want to hear more before judgment is passed.

North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski welcomed the initiative but said it “must not and should not be a substitute for full membership of the European Union” in Brussels on Thursday before an earlier EU-Western Balkans summit. .

Ukraine was one of the more reserved countries, fearing it could be a gamble to leave its candidacy for the EU indefinitely in limbo, before reassurance from the 27 countries of the European Union that it wouldn’t. used to be.

Britain, which turned its relations with the EU on its head with its Brexit referendum six years ago, was unsurprisingly cool about the idea.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has parked her preferences in other forums, such as the G7 and NATO, where she believes her country has a stronger role.

However, French officials say they still hope that Britain will see the value of being part of a European Political Community.

And EU members?

Some EU countries are reflexively coy with ideas being spread by France, the bloc’s heavyweight alongside Germany. Others find the initiative ill-defined, or wonder how disparate countries can come together in this form.

But many recognize that some sort of forum where European countries can come together to discuss issues they all face could be worthwhile.

Germany and others stress that it must not overlap the work of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which is currently sidelined because of the Russian war in Ukraine, and the pan-continental Council of Europe, the human rights body in Strasbourg.

Macron’s Elysee Palace was optimistic, with an official saying the idea was “increasingly received more positively”.

When could it happen?

Thursday’s summit discussion of the idea has been described as a ‘brainstorming session’ that would kick-start debate stretching into the European summer.

It will be looked at “step by step”, the French presidency said, with the aim of an inaugural meeting sometime in the second half of this year.

(AFP)

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