Will the European Political Community “Take off”?

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Sergiu CEBAN There are great doubts concerning the viability of the new pan-European platform, the second summit of which, by the way, is to be held in Chisinau A new informal organization, the European Political Community (EPC), made its “debut” in Prague at the beginning of October. The summit brought together in the Czech capital representatives of 27 EU countries, as well as candidates for accession to the EU. European Council President Charles Michel briefly formulated the goal of the new forum – “to unite the leaders on an equal basis and to promote political dialogue and cooperation in order to work together to strengthen the security, stability and prosperity of Europe”. Maia Sandu was personally involved in the launch of a new pan-European platform. The president had a number of meetings with her European colleagues on the sidelines of the summit and also spoke about the fact that “European states must work together to restore international order”. In addition, she said, Europe needs decisive action to bring peace back to the continent, strengthen security and stop any attempts to destabilize the situation. Initially many assumed that the summit would be held in the EU+ format, with the participation of candidate countries, in order, among other things, to strengthen the hopes of the latter for accelerated European integration. However, it seems that the main idea of the organizers was to go beyond the borders of the European Union and “lure” virtually all countries oriented toward rapprochement with it, regardless of their status, whether they are candidates or associated partners. Someone, perhaps, was attracted by this idea: for example, our leadership, which now badly needs external support for the idea of joining the EU. But Kyiv is not very happy with such phantom projects, which is why Ukraine is wary of this “innovative project”. Its doubts are quite justified, because it is still unclear whether all these plans are in the spirit of the times. To begin with, the creation of the EPC should be seen through the intra-EU context, where many problems have accumulated that require urgent solutions. And the difficulties will inevitably grow against the backdrop of energy uncertainty as we approach the coming winter. Before setting itself the ambitious task of “taking on a new height” – that is, responsibility for continental security – the collective Brussels would do well to begin by showing its citizens that it can still manage turmoil within its own borders without too much strain. Otherwise, citizens will inevitably turn to their national governments and, consequently, the all-union unity will weaken, and with it all these geopolitical “megaprojects” like the EPC. European rulers can “play assemblage formats” as much as they like, but the regional context requires a fundamentally different vision. The countries of the European Union and its closest neighbors are, by and large, neither warm nor cold to shiny summits where Eurobureaucrats can amuse themselves. The most important thing now is the question of security, so everyone is waiting for fresh ideas on how exactly to increase confidence in the future. It is unlikely that all modern problems in the security sphere need political projects without a clearly formulated content, structure and clear prospects for further development. Nevertheless, we want to believe that there are still forces in key European capitals that are aware that the new geopolitical and securitization reality gives rise to the need for an adequate response. But if Europe’s response is only to create some semblance of a broad political forum, then we have to admit that in the EU, things are very bad with preparing and making strategic decisions. Under such conditions, we are likely to end up with several subregional politico-military coalitions, following the example of the British-Polish alliance with the involvement of the Baltic states and Ukraine. Despite this, even the most preposterous attempt by EU leaders to somehow make sense of the “fault lines in history” that are now taking place suggests, one way or another, an important shift in the perception of pan-European security. It cannot be ruled out that the Prague summit is a trial balloon to be followed by, for example, the replacement of the OSCE, once created to prevent conflicts in Europe, but long since exhausted, with a more effective instrument for maintaining stability. It is well known that Moscow has its own understanding of the “optimal” configuration of security on the European continent, but for obvious reasons no one planned to invite Russia to the EPC summit. Moreover, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, stated directly that the new platform was created in order to shape the world order in Europe without taking into account the opinion of the Russian Federation and Belarus. For Moldova, the most important consequence of the event was the decision to organize the next meeting of the European political community in Chisinau. From the point of view of prestige and international image, holding such a large-scale summit for the country will certainly not be superfluous. In addition, the current government will receive a huge boost in foreign policy support. The only thing that might disrupt these plans is the inability of the president and the Action and Solidarity Party to retain power under the pressure of growing street protests, and a cardinal change in favor of Moscow on the Russian-Ukrainian front. Judging by the first assessments, the initiators of the EPC did not succeed in achieving their goals. In essence, it all came down to air fussing and empty talk. Therefore, it is only natural that many of those invited had reasonable doubts about the viability of the new format in principle. Many of the representatives of not even the largest countries understand that in the current environment, wasting time is deadly. While Europe is “concentrating”, trying out geopolitics and looking for new forms of political cooperation, the opposing club of autocracies is mobilizing and challenging the Western world order. Just look at the cartel collusion between Russia and Saudi Arabia and the creation of a gas hub in Turkey. Unless Europeans find the strength to offer a time-appropriate model, the continent will face a difficult process of political disunity, which the Eastern revanchists will not hesitate to take advantage of.