The promise and which means of the European Political Group after the 2024 EU and UK elections – Nexus Vista

The following assembly of the European Political Group shall be hosted by the UK in July. James Dennison writes that coming shortly after the 2024 European Parliament elections and the UK’s normal election, the assembly will supply a perfect alternative for Europe’s new leaders to confront the continent’s many challenges.

On 18 July, the nascent European Political Group (EPC) will maintain its fourth summit since its founding lower than two years in the past. The UK will host the event, two weeks after its 4 July normal election – anticipated to usher in a brand new authorities – and simply over a month after the 2024 European Parliament elections and the formation of a brand new European Fee.

The timing of the assembly of 47 European nations is thus a very auspicious alternative for Europe’s new leaders to confront the continent’s many challenges. Whereas detractors have seen the EPC as a fig leaf to EU candidate nations, I argue that the emergence of the EPC doubtlessly holds profound significance for European politics and integration, reflecting cussed truths extra obvious following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The origins of the EPC

Plainly, the 2022 creation of the EPC represented a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Its timing and targets – bringing collectively European states dedicated to “European values” no matter EU membership for geopolitical cooperation – all replicate the invasion, as do its security-related, infrastructure and project-based coverage goals, together with on vitality, cybersecurity, pipelines, undersea cables and satellites, and extra tangentially local weather change, migration and economics.

Its excessive politics and state sovereignty focus and purely European membership equally replicate the violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and differentiate it from the Council of Europe, EU, NATO and OSCE. It rapidly led to opt-ins to EU programmes by the UK and tasks in Ukraine, whereas governments of each EU and non-EU members, in addition to the EEA, have publicly expressed help for the fledgling organisation. Certainly, The EPC’s pre-eminence in an early 2023 UK-French Joint Declaration is telling.

Nonetheless, the EPC’s traits replicate no less than three deeper realities and imperatives about European politics and integration that have been highlighted by however predate the battle. These are, primarily, the superficiality of purely institutional notions of Europeanism, but additionally the stark limits of the EU establishments’ powers relative to states of Europe, and, not least given the five hundred,000 deaths to this point in Ukraine, the persistent ethical crucial of state sovereignty as the elemental organising precept of European politics.

New prospects

The logical ramifications of those realisations matter. First, they act as a corollary – if not partial corrective – to the overwhelming reputational victory of the EU establishments over their – previous to 2016, rising – Eurosceptic detractors, encapsulated by the UK and its Conservative authorities. Significantly throughout the Brexit negotiations, sure corners of Europe have been in a position to concurrently salute the European flag when it got here to Brexit but keep agency to self-serving nationwide narratives used to justify defence free-riding, tax haven statuses and Putin apologism – all plainly anti-European, arguably culpable for the battle however properly throughout the bounds of EU guidelines. Some pro-Europeans celebrated the EU’s “united and efficient” response to Brexit.

But, whereas the EU’s rational strategic transfer throughout the Brexit negotiations was passivity – sitting again whereas the UK authorities tied itself in knots and the clock ran down – the invasion of Ukraine known as for a completely distinct and extra demanding response. Furthermore, backing for Ukraine – a non-EU member state supported in European phrases by each EU and non-EU member states – reminded us that Europeanism shouldn’t be owned by sure establishments neither is it evidenced solely by adherence to and instrumentalisation of these establishments.

The invasion of Ukraine, about which Britain had been amongst the earliest and most unwaveringly “pro-European” states, partially reversed some earlier roles. Identical to London earlier than, a number of the EU’s keenest flag-wavers have been now humbled by the fact of the world past their common corridors and compelled to point out their insufficient, if not duplicitous, hand. It’s no coincidence that France, as a geopolitical participant conscious of the necessity for nimble responsiveness on the highest degree, not becoming the above invoice, and never compromised like post-Brexit Britain, proposed the EPC.

Against this, these most wedded to and benefitting from a purely EU-institutional view of Europeanism (in addition to Russia) have been more than likely to dismiss the EPC. But the EPC, by being high-level, versatile, and, in membership and coverage space phrases, distinctive, reopens new prospects of European integration, avoiding negotiated communiqués, easing candid conversations and fast agenda-setting. Whereas the EU had seemingly lastly mixed the assorted post-war Europeanist our bodies, the brand new EPC represents a brand new institutional try at Europeanism in response to the inadequacies of the established order.

Semper fidelis: the UK and the EPC

Prospectively and strategically for the brand new UK authorities, there isn’t a higher restrict to what it ought to search for the event of the EPC. The latter’s targets for the continent absolutely match the UK’s personal, its set-up aligns with Britain’s conventional issues over and visions for European politics, and its novelty insulates the federal government from reopening dangerous Brexit electoral divisions.

It due to this fact makes a perfect centrepiece to the – presumably – Labour authorities’s European coverage, no less than initially. But, an intergovernmental physique doesn’t should be modest in intention. Margaret Thatcher’s dizzying “Europe, the long run” 1984 doc envisaged a radically empowered European Council as the driving force of a Europeanisation centered on most of the identical geopolitical targets because the EPC forty years later. This imaginative and prescient fell by the wayside as the remainder of the EU coalesced round inward-looking regulatory, institutional and financial integration – tough for the UK and quashing its in style “Europhoria” throughout the late Eighties and early Nineteen Nineties.

Virtually, the brand new UK authorities ought to pull out all of the stops in institutionalising, facilitating and enthusing help for the EPC, together with a proposal to host and fund a everlasting London-based Secretariat. Doing so would, for the primary time, put “Europe” within the centre of Westminster life whereas EPC boards proceed to alternate between EU member states and non-member states biannually.

EU establishments and governments suspicious of such strikes ought to contemplate the assets, good religion and potential future integration that such a transfer might allow, whereas finest serving to the EPC participant states to fulfill their pressing, more and more expansive, widespread – and crucially, throughout the EU, not built-in – geopolitical challenges.


Word: This text provides the views of the writer, not the place of EUROPP – European Politics and Coverage or the London College of Economics. Featured picture credit score: European Union


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