Prague summit: a new community for Europe?

Forty-four European heads of state and government met in Prague on Thursday to establish the European Political Community. This expanded platform was proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron in May. The goal is to reach out beyond the EU and offer the countries of Europe, including non-members, a platform for political coordination in the face of Russia's war on Ukraine. Commentators praise the initiative but see a lot of work ahead.

Open/close all quotes
Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Being there was everything

History was made in Prague with this summit, writes Prague-based Hospodářské noviny:

“French President Emmanuel Macron's idea of creating a European Political Community is part of a huge change now taking place in European politics. ... Macron wants a framework for dialogue with European countries that are not in the EU but are strategically important for the Union. ... Those who were absent in Prague will have a hard time catching up with the others. Or they will be excluded - like Russia and Belarus, which were not invited - for a very long time.”

Der Standard (AT) /

A future without Russia

Russia's aggression is forcing enlarged Europe to find new answers, stresses Der Standard:

“From now on, Europe will no longer be built with Russia, but without Russia. Some European heads of government, especially in Eastern Europe, are talking about the need to work on a common Europe against Russia. ... None of the EU heads of government expect the war in Ukraine to end any time soon. On the contrary, they are preparing for a lengthy 'frozen conflict'. ... This means: Europe must quickly and extensively rebuild its economy, its energy supply chains, its security and defence policy, in the knowledge that Moscow is doing everything it can to undermine all this and divide Europe.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Britain is needed

Brussels has finally recognised the importance of non-member states, The Daily Telegraph writes:

“The very existence of the new summit acknowledges that the EU's ambition to speak for Europe is no more. Now, for the first time, the EU has gone out of its way to respect the concerns of non-member states and accept that their voice deserves to be heard just as loudly. Macron also needs Britain. For all his frustrations with les Anglo-Saxons, he accepts that the UK is the only meaningful military partner for France and that countering Russian revanchism will require co-operation between them.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

The new club must not be non-binding

The European Political Community is a good place to start, NRC Handelsblad writes:

“Does the world need yet another multilateral consultation body? Yes it does - even at a time when consultations have fallen into such disrepute. ... What's more, the EU is becoming an interesting option again now that Putin has scared further neighbouring countries with his war. ... Everyone knows that becoming a member will take years. In the meantime, how do you make a country feel like it belongs? The European Political Community is part of the answer. ... It must not remain non-binding. If the EU needs to demonstrate one thing in this war, it is that it is the only credible alternative in the current madness. That requires more than sporadic meetings.”

L'Obs (FR) /

Create real prospects of enlargement

Piotr Buras of the foreign policy think tank ECFR points out in L'Obs:

“To 'stabilise the neighbourhood', as Macron said, the EU must do far more than set up a new conference of heads of state. ... It must propose a long-term vision for integration into the community, including full access to the EU's four freedoms (free movement of goods, capital, services and people), once states have met the criteria. This offer would include not only comprehensive assistance with long-term preparations for EU accession, but also access to cohesion funds if the countries join the single market before becoming full EU members.”