The Potential of the EPC: Navigating Challenges and Shaping the Future of European Diplomacy

on 20.07.2023
Photo Credits: The European Council

It has been over a year since French President Emmanuel Macron proposed the establishment of the European Political Community (EPC), partly triggered by Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Although initially surprising many governments, this idea and the format eventually garnered backing from the leaders of over 40 European countries. To date, two summits have been held, one in Prague on October 6th, 2022, and another in Chisinau on June 1st, 2023. Heads of state engaged in numerous discussions and exchanges within an informal setting. However, after over a year, some experts and policymakers persist in questioning the format and its purpose. Is it possible for a non-institutionalized forum like the EPC to significantly impact the global stage and effectively communicate its message? Might the EPC eventually become a substitute for existing formats? Additionally, how does it integrate into the context of EU enlargement?

These and other relevant questions were raised on the sidelines of the 2023 GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum, during which experts gathered to discuss the potential future of the EPC. The first consensus reached was that one of the current primary goals of the EPC is to function as an "anti-Russian aggression" community, firmly adhering to the principles of international law. Secondly, the EPC is seen as a Forum where EU candidate countries can meet with the leaders of the EU and outside of the EU in a less formal setting, without any formal obligations for specific "deliverables". Thirdly, the EPC is perceived as a helpful avenue for cooperation with post-Brexit UK.

Experts' assessments align closely with the officially stated objectives of the EPC, which are to foster political dialogue and cooperation to address issues of common interest and to strengthen the security, stability and prosperity of the European continent. During the inaugural gathering of the EPC in October 2022, the primary focus of discussion among leaders revolved around matters pertaining to peace and security, with particular emphasis on Russia's war in Ukraine and the prevailing energy crisis. Similar discussions continued during the Moldova Summit in 2023.

While the idea behind the Community is notable, opinions vary on its successful initiation. During the initial months, the EPC's message was unclear to certain governments. For instance, Germany and Poland did not immediately attach significant importance to this format. On the other hand, Paris recognized early on the geopolitical gap in Europe that needed to be filled in.

The EPC emerged as a non-institutionalized forum, serving as a meeting place for both EU and non-EU countries. Recognizing that not all European countries are interested in joining the EU, a new informal platform was necessary to collectively discuss issues related to broader security issues, immigration, cyber and hybrid threats, energy resilience, and other pertinent topics. Although there is some connection to the EU architecture, the concept is different and should remain detached. The potential of the EPC lies in its openness to EU members, those aspiring to join, those who were once part of it, and even those who have no intention of becoming EU members.

While ongoing discussions revolve around refining the format, prominent voices advocate that the EPC predominantly serve as a powerful political signal of support, emphasizing the importance of its symbolic significance rather than seeking concrete deliverables. Undoubtedly, the significance lies in convening 47 European leaders in a small state who aspire to join the European Union and share a border with Ukraine amid its ongoing war actions. As anticipated, the Summit did not yield concrete deliverables; however, it served as a pivotal occasion to address crucial matters, such as Ukraine's potential membership in NATO, and foster meaningful discussions, such as the meeting involving leaders from Armenia, Azerbaijan, France, Germany, and the European Council President. As highlighted by certain experts at GLOBSEC's 2023 Bratislava Forum, the art of diplomacy seems to decrease influence. Yet, the EPC's capacity to facilitate gatherings and networking opportunities may well serve to fill this gap in the contemporary landscape of international relations.


  • The EPC should continue to function as a non-institutionalized and informal meeting platform for both EU and non-EU members, thereby fostering inclusive discussions with a broader range of participants.
  • Rather than replacing existing formats, the EPC should serve as an alternative space for facilitating bilateral and multilateral meetings, providing a unique and flexible setting for diplomatic engagement.
  • Participants in the informal format should not feel obligated to produce specific deliverables, allowing for open and free-flowing discussions without rigid outcomes.
  • The flexible agenda of the EPC enables it to adapt swiftly to address contemporary challenges and pressing issues that arise in the dynamic global landscape.
  • It is essential to recognize that the EPC is not intended to serve as a substitute for EU enlargement; this was not its original purpose upon establishment, and it remains committed to its distinctive role going forward.


Disclaimer: Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or EACEA. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.





Project Coordinator at the Center for Global Europe




Project Coordinator at the Center for Global Europe