European (Geo)Political Community for Moldova

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The idea of a “parallel EU” is gradually taking shape – and more pronounced geopolitical overtones with it
Vladimir ROTARI, RTA: The beginning of autumn does not bode well for PAS so far. Anti-government pickets, however massive, gather here and there – today, for example, even in front of the president’s house. By all signs, this is just a rehearsal for really large-scale protests that will be started when the ruling party finally loses control of its own affairs. Judging by the fact that none of the main problems – inflation, high gas prices, and falling real incomes of the population – can be overcome, there is little doubt that such a moment will definitely come. Foreign policy could be some kind of distraction for the ruling party. Moldova was among those invited to the informal summit of EU leaders to be held in Prague on October 6-7. It is going to focus on the development of cooperation of the EU with non-member states within the project of the European political community. Therefore, the composition of the participants will be expanded: the UK, Norway and Switzerland are invited, nine countries aspiring to EU membership – Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia and the West Balkan Six, as well as Armenia and Azerbaijan. As we can see, the idea, submitted in May by French President Emmanuel Macron, not only survived in high offices in Europe, but is also moving by leaps and bounds toward its practical implementation. Already at the June EU summit, the initiative was welcomed and approved by the EU’s unofficial leader, Germany, and a number of other influential countries. Yet no one seems to be able to give a clear answer as to what exactly this new association will be. And even at the level of the general idea, one can see the volatility of opinions and concepts. Presenting his idea, Macron believed that the new organization should allow European democracies outside the EU to start cooperating closely now in priority areas, from energy and transport to investment and security. At the time many thought, rightly, that it would in fact be such a EU surrogate for post-Soviet countries, depriving them of the real membership prospect. Ukraine was especially indignant, expressing its unequivocal discontent over creating the EPC. Over the summer the idea gradually evolved and, it seems, by the October summit we will definitely see a much more “finished product”, which will be discussed. Thus, the European political community, including, probably, due to Kyiv’s sharp reaction, is now clearly presented as a completely separate structure, not substituting for its members the process of European integration and admission to the EU. European Council President Charles Michel has recently specifically emphasized that this is not “an alternative to EU enlargement”. Besides, an approximate organizational form emerges. The same Michel talks about the desire to have “an informal and flexible structure similar to the G7 and G20”. And German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that it would be nice to have a forum that would allow EU leaders to discuss pressing cooperation issues with partner countries once or twice a year. The most interesting point is which of these issues will be considered the highest priority. And if at first many perceived the idea of the EPC as a kind of “EU antechamber,” where the candidate countries will be helped to get up to European standards, now it is almost clear that Brussels is much more interested in discussing issues of a geopolitical and global nature: energy, collective security, and climate problems. Let's just say that these are hardly the most interesting areas for many of the EU candidate countries. Certainly not for Moldova. We would probably want very different support: investment, help with energy supplies, which are now being sold at unaffordable prices, and reforms. However, given how actively Western partners have taken up the modernization of our military potential and how generously money is allocated for this, in contrast to other sectors, much becomes clear. In the current period of increased turbulence, it is more important than ever for the EU to protect itself at all costs – at least until independent defense capabilities are available. The creation of the EPC turns out to be another step in this direction, making it possible to deal with geopolitical and security issues with the countries outside the EU at the same level as if they were already full-fledged members. Thus, forming a kind of “European shield”, in which, based on geographical boundaries, the same “association allies” will play an important role. In this case, the experience of Ukraine is likely to be taken into account, where they managed to drag Russia into a proxy-conflict, which has been exhausting its forces and resources for half a year now, while the Union itself bears only economic costs. The experts loyal to the authorities now describe the invitation for Moldova to take part in the Prague summit as a definite benefit and “good opportunity” to talk with the states-colleagues and senior partners about the European and regional security. Maybe so, but so far Moldova’s participation in any geopolitical games has not brought it any benefits or advantages, more than enough problems instead. It will hardly be different this time.