As Europe gears up for the second summit of the European Political Community, scheduled for June 1 in Chisinau, Moldova, the debates surrounding the purpose of the EPC and the necessity for yet another political dialogue platform have spawned a multitude of hypotheses and scenarios. While the concept itself is not novel, this time it may hold promise: the circumstances differ, the stakes are significantly higher, and success or failure rests squarely on the shoulders of the participants.
The choice of Chisinau as the location for the second EPC summit carries profound symbolism. For the first time, all European allies will gather outside the EU, in the Republic of Moldova—a candidate country situated on the border with the war-torn Ukraine. Adding to the significance, Moldova is concurrently hosting joint military exercises involving military personnel from France, Britain, the United States, and Romania, to ensure air space security during the summit. This resolute exercise in European unity has already irked Russian officials, but to cement the EPC's long-term viability, tangible outcomes must gradually reinforce this demonstration.
First and foremost, the platform brings together representatives from both EU and non-EU countries, encompassing various statuses: aspiring members, former members, and non-members alike. Though skeptics may perceive this as a substitute for European integration, the very ability of the EPC to convene such an eclectic gathering of states is an achievement in itself, presenting an opportunity for constructive dialogue.
The true value of the EPC lies in its unstructured format, which fosters multifaceted interactions between EU and non-EU actors across the European continent—interactions that seldom occur otherwise. The EPC acts as a blank canvas, enabling these actors to unite without the burdens of yielding or committing to another supranational entity, all while respecting the will of their respective electorates. Emphasis should be placed on the significance of bilateral contacts outside of plenary sessions, as the EPC platform provides participants with a chance to lay the groundwork for initiatives that can be finalized and launched on more formal platforms. A prime example of this was the talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan during the inaugural EPC summit in Prague.
The European Union's internal tensions and fatigue have been eclipsed by the conflict in Ukraine and the realization of the vulnerabilities European countries have exposed themselves to through years of cooperation with Russia. The impetus to assist Ukraine in resisting the Russian invasion will, for the time being, sustain the continuity of the European Political Community. Building upon this momentum, the EPC must evolve into a laboratory for driving new integrationist initiatives that fortify the bonds among participating states.
Building on the discussions held in Prague, several pressing issues demand immediate attention on June 1 in Chisinau. Foremost among these are continental security, reducing dependence on Russian energy sources, and fostering economic development.
The security of the European continent currently hinges on Ukraine, but Ukraine requires greater support to defend itself and achieve peace. For the neighboring Moldova, whose economy has been gravely impacted by the conflict in its vicinity, European support is also of vital importance. Investing in Moldova's security and economic development will not only be advantageous for the region but will also fortify its resistance against pressures emanating from Russia and its local proxies.
The second critical matter to address during the summit revolves around investments in alternative energy production across the continent. This endeavor will not only bolster the energy resilience of European nations but also mitigate the adverse effects of climate change in the region.
These actions should extend beyond the realm of diplomacy and encompass concrete initiatives that address the pressing issues at hand. From bolstering security and economic development in Moldova to investing in alternative energy production across the continent, the EPC has the potential to reshape the trajectory of Europe's future. By seizing this opportunity and implementing transformative measures, the participating countries can ensure a more prosperous, secure, and sustainable European landscape.
Petru Culeac, Executive Director of the Soros Foundation Moldova
The views expressed by contributors are their own.