European Western Balkans

“European Political Community a product of a geopolitical momentum, does not exclude enlargement”

"The European Political Community: Challenges and Opportunities" panel at the Belgrade Security Conference 2023; Photo: ECFR Sofia

BELGRADE – The European Political Community, initiated by France last year, is a child of the current geopolitical momentum. It is not an alternative for enlargement, nor can it always ensure diplomatic breakthroughs, but it is useful as a platform for the non-EU members to communicate with their EU counterparts, concluded the participants of today’s panel at the Belgrade Security Conference.

The panel, titled “European Political Community: Challenges and Opportunities”, gathered experts from France, Bulgaria, United Kingdom and Switzerland, all member of the EPC.

The panel took place a week after the summit of the European Political Community in Granada, Spain, which, according to many commentators, ended without any specific positive outcome. It was the third such summit, following the one in Czechia in October 2022 and in Moldova in June 2023.

Alexandre Adam, member of the French Council of State and former Advisor to President of France Emmanuel Macron, said that expecting that each summit will present deliverables may be disappointing.

“One of the key aspects of EPC is the dialogue… Serbia-Kosovo, Armenia-Azerbaijan etc. The diplomatic field should become more mature before the concrete decisions are being made”, he said.

Adam stressed that the objective of the European Political Community is to show unity and solidarity and to have security and stability on the agenda, with equal footing for all members.

Asked about the relations of the EPC to the EU enlargement process Vessela Tcherneva, Deputy Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, said EPC is a child of this geopolitical momentum, when security is in focus, adding that EPC is neither conciliatory prize for candidate countries nor an alternative for EU membership.

“Geopolitical momentum lead to this parallel process, it is not excluding EU enlargement,” stated Tcherneva.

She highlighted an opportunity for countries from the Western Balkans to put ideas on the table through the European Political Community and even set priorities in areas such as energy, connectivity, and migrations.

Nick Heath, Head of Europe Strategy and Expertise Department in the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, suggested that there is political capacity for decision-making in the European Political Community, but also stressed the limitations of this broad coalition.

“On certain issues, not all 47 members should be included – some groups within EPC have started to tackle issues in smaller groups,” he said.

Explaining UK interest in the European Political Community, Heath added that it provides a platform where the agenda is set beyond the EU and for engaging with partners on a bilateral level.

Alexandra Matas, Director of International Security Dialogue at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, said the European Political Community poses an opportunity for bringing non-like-minded groups that share a common interest of tackling transnational issues.

However, she concluded, “beautiful family photo of European leaders pretty soon won’t be enough – concrete results are needed.”

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