French President Emmanuel Macron’s pet project, the European Political Community, held its inaugural summit in Prague, Czech Republic, this week. The gathering marked a diplomatic success for Macron, who had floated the idea of a forum comprising all of Europe’s democracies, both inside and outside the European Union, back in May.
Coming at a time when calls for admitting Ukraine into the EU through an expedited accession procedure were gaining momentum, Macron’s proposal was initially criticized for being disingenuous. The French president had already made waves in 2019 when he hit the brakes on EU accession for the Western Balkans states. This seemed like another way to placate Ukraine and those other states without actually addressing their EU aspirations—a parking lot in which candidate states would languish while their accession processes dragged on endlessly, formalizing the two-tier Europe that has taken shape since the last EU expansion in the mid-2000s.
That Macron introduced his idea in the context of yet another of his bold and grandiose initiatives—the closing conference of a citizens’ assembly to propose EU treaty reforms—underscored another criticism: that his proposed new forum would be both too vague and too ambitious. An institution so large and heterogeneous would be doomed to being nothing but a talk shop, with little chance of effective action.