Imagine it’s 2030. You can live and look for work freely in the UK, EU, Ukraine, Turkey, Western Balkans and a few other prosperous democracies. They cross open borders on an integrated high-speed rail link powered by a jointly funded green hydrogen infrastructure and an integrated energy grid.
They feel safe as these countries ensure an equitable supply of life-saving vaccines and maintain a joint task force for rapid response to climate-related disasters.
As Russia’s war against Ukraine continues, it feels like science fiction. But it’s a real possibility if the European Political Community – a new organization to be set up in Prague on October 6 – succeeds. The heads of government of 44 European countries, including all 27 EU countries, will take part in the opening session. British Prime Minister Liz Truss has announced she will be there, although she initially shows little enthusiasm for it.
The European political community, first proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron last May as a separate platform from the European Union, is emerging as a direct result of Russia’s war of aggression. Its goal is to create a European democratic space that includes, but is not limited to, the European Union. This would be a way of giving Ukraine long-term institutional support and clear democratic roots. After the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the West turned to the other side; Now he must avoid this mistake.
Stopping democratic backsliding is better than intervening elsewhere: countries like Georgia, Moldova or the Western Balkans need to be protected from autocratic encroachment, and this community offers them a solid path.
The European Union was traditionally supposed to fulfill these functions. But enlargement is a painfully slow process and unlikely to happen again before EU reforms. EU accession could take up to a decade, and delays could have ignominious consequences: the humiliation of Turkey, which has sat in an EU waiting room since 1987, played no small part in Erdogan’s rise to power. And what to do in this case?
The European Political Community is the answer to this question. It not only protects the countries between the EU and Russia – as the British involvement shows.
While Joe Biden’s Democracy Summit was little more than a big Zoom meeting, and China’s Belt and Road initiative is a global projection of its autocratic power, the European political community could become the first democratic laboratory for “planetary” politics. that is beyond Provides tangible benefits and rights for the nation state and citizens of participating states.
The details still have to be worked out – but there is no shortage of good offers. For example, the energy crisis offers opportunities for cross-border renewable generation and the integration of energy grids and storage.
Improvements in communications and transport infrastructure for rail, road and water transport will go a long way in creating a sense of closeness while improving market conditions. The European Union’s recent extension of free roaming charges for mobile phones in Ukraine offers a symbolic but easily understandable model.
Shared investment can be secured by expanding the mechanism underlying the EU recovery fund, the first international shared debt and investment prototype. Human mobility that creates a space of free movement that bridges the gap between first and second class citizens should be envisaged.
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Britain has more to achieve than most. The presence of a truss is welcome, although it probably doesn’t inspire much imaginative or creative engagement. And here is a plea to British progressives and the British Labor Party leadership: accept it. After Brexit, the progressive UK could become a dominant force in the community of European democracies. A project that is complementary but extra-EU, gives the UK, as a former member of the EU, its best tool to achieve closer ties with the rest of Europe, allowing British citizens to stay away from Brexit through Brexit. It gets its estimated global projection and returns some of the rights it took. – From freedom of movement to joint research funding.
It’s easy to poke fun at the new club as shop talk or a gimmick. And yet it is not a helpful time to humiliate Europe. Given the war on Covid-19 and its soil, a continent accused by critics of irreversible decline and the size of a banana might be expected to suffer from the meticulous management of such things.
The opposite happened. Eventually, COVID-19 led to the EU Recovery Fund and the successful joint purchase of vaccines. The war in Ukraine has strengthened solidarity between EU countries and promoted financial coordination with a common taxation of energy companies. Had a writer predicted such an outcome during the European debt crisis and after the Brexit referendum, his idea would have been dismissed as fiction. But now this is the world we live in. We must not allow our ambitions to be poorer than reality.