European Union leaders discussed French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent proposal just after midnight on the first day of the summit in Brussels on Thursday. He wants the creation of a ‘European political community’ in which ties with other European countries can be strengthened. Belgium is open to the idea, provided that all participating countries respect European values.
The European political community aims to “provide a platform for political cooperation to European countries across the continent,” the leaders concluded. The objective should be “to promote political dialogue and cooperation to address issues of common interest, in order to enhance the security, stability and prosperity of the European continent”.
The leaders later decided to reconsider Macron’s proposal. The plan is still rather vague and most Member States are adopting a wait-and-see attitude. However, the leaders emphasize in their conclusions that the idea should certainly not replace the enlargement process and certainly not undermine the EU’s autonomy to make its own decisions.
We do not all have the same rule of law standards and our economic and social situation can be very different, but we need to strengthen our strategic ties.
The idea of a political community arose because of the war in Ukraine and the lightning-fast granting of candidate country status to that country. Macron launched the proposal on the basis that the EU can currently only offer membership to promote stability in the region. Meeting the membership criteria, however, is a long-term task, and not all countries are called upon to join.
“We shouldn’t all live in the same house, but we do live on the same street,” Macron said on Thursday. “We don’t all have the same rule of law standards and our economic and social situation can be very different, but we need to strengthen our strategic ties”. For example, member states, candidate countries and other countries in the looser structure of a political community – with two summits a year – could work together in areas such as defense and energy, the president said.
The idea was received surprisingly favorably on Thursday by the countries of the Western Balkans who have been sitting in the EU waiting room for years and once again shouted out their frustrations before the summit. According to diplomatic sources, these positive reactions also made some member states more lenient. Belgium is open to the idea, provided that all participating countries respect European values.
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