POLITICS, the EU and the European Political Community (EPC)

The politics of the European Union are different from other organisations and states due to the unique nature of the European Union (EU). The EU is similar to a confederation, where many policy areas are federalised into common institutions capable of making law; however the EU does not, unlike most states, control foreign policydefence policy or the majority of direct taxation policies (the EU does limit the level of variation allowed for VAT). These areas are primarily under the control of the EU's member states although a certain amount of structured co-operation and coordination takes place in these areas. For the EU to take substantial actions in these areas, all Member States must give their consent. EU laws that override national laws are more numerous than in historical confederations; however the EU is legally restricted from making law outside its remit or where it is no more appropriate to do so at a national or local level (subsidiarity) when acting outside its exclusive competencies. The principle of subsidiarity does not apply to areas of exclusive competence.

The common institutions mix the intergovernmental and supranational (similar to federal) aspects of the EU. The EU treaties declare the EU to be based on representative democracy, and direct elections take place to the European Parliament. The Parliament, together with the Council, form the legislative arm of the EU. The Council is composed of national governments, thus representing the intergovernmental nature of the EU. Laws are proposed by the European Commission which is appointed by and accountable to the Parliament and Council although it has very few executive powers.

Although direct elections take place every five years, there are no cohesive political parties in the national sense. Instead, there are alliances of ideologically associated parties who sit and vote together in Parliament.


the European Political Community (EPC) | Volt, a pan-European, progressive political movement | political Union | conference on the politics of the European Union (2014) | Variable geometry | multi-level governance | conference The European Union: Seeking Responses for Emerging Challenges (2011)


  towards a European Political Community
An entity to be named the European Political Community (EPC) was proposed in 1952 as a combination of the existing European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the proposed European Defence Community (EDC). A draft EPC treaty, as drawn up by the ECSC assembly (now the European Parliament), would have seen a directly elected assembly ("the Peoples’ Chamber"), a senate appointed by national parliaments and a supranational executive accountable to the parliament.

The European Political Community project failed in 1954 when it became clear that the European Defence Community would not be ratified by the French national assembly, which feared that the project entailed an unacceptable loss of national sovereignty. As a result, the European Political Community idea had to be abandoned. Following the collapse of the EPC, European leaders met in the Messina Conference in 1955 and established the Spaak Committee which would pave the way for the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC).

Under the same acronym EPC, the European Political Community was proposed by the French president Emmanuel Macron at the Conference on the Future of Europe on 9 May 2022 after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in his role as the president of the Council of the European Union (EU). The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, also put forward a similar proposal for the establishment of a "European geopolitical community". On 23–24 June 2022, formation of the community was agreed to at a meeting of the European Council (1). On 29 September 2022, the United Kingdom announced that it would participate in the community. The group convened for the first time on 6 October 2022 with leaders from 44 states in attendance. Russia and Belarus were deliberately excluded from participation. In January 2023, it was confirmed that San Marino had joined the community becoming its 45th participating state. It has been reported that the heads of government of Andorra and Monaco will also attend the second summit bringing the number of members up to 47.

EPC Observatory

The European Political Community (EPC) is an intergovernmental forum for political and strategic discussions about the future of Europe, established in 2022 after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The group first met in October 2022 in Prague, with participants from 44 European countries, as well as the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission. It is distinct from both the European Union (which is a participant) and the Council of Europe.

The European Political Community aims at:

  • strengthening the links between EU member states and Non-EU member states who share the same European values,
  • increasing cooperation between the member countries on a large scale of topics such as peace, security, energy, climate, migration and the current economic situation,
  • allowing candidate states to start taking part in some European projects, such as student and university exchanges.
Following a bilateral summit meeting between the leaders of the United Kingdom and France on 10 March 2023, it was stated in the joint declaration that the EPC should focus on energy, infrastructures, connectivity, cybersecurity, countering disinformation and migration. During the meeting 1 June, 2023, joint efforts for peace and security and energy resilience and connectivity and mobility in Europe was discussed.

(1) 23 and 24 June 2022, the European Council held a strategic discussion on the European Union’s relations with its partners in Europe. It discussed the proposal to launch a European political community. What, who and how? The aim is to offer a platform for political coordination for European countries across the continent. It could concern all European countries with whom we have close relations. The objective would be to foster political dialogue and cooperation to address issues of common interest so as to strengthen the security, stability and prosperity of the European continent.

Such a framework will not replace existing EU policies and instruments, notably enlargement, and will fully respect the European Union’s decision-making autonomy. Building on this first exchange of views, the European Council will revert to the issue.

  The EPC one year on – picture imperfect


Volt, a pan-European, progressive political movement  
Volt is a pan-European, progressive political movement that offers a new way of doing politics. The movement want to change the political dynamics in the European Union by implementing measures that:
  • invest in the potential of EU citizens;
  • make our public sector efficient and our economies fairer & stronger, and that
  • protect human rights and our environment, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

Policies that are driven by evidence, empathy, and integrity, not misled ideology. To achieve this change, we are convinced that a solution to our joint problems can only be a pan-European one that puts citizens at the center.

Some of our claims include a clear path toward a Federal State of Europe, a thorough digitization of the State, a push for freedom and support for Entrepreneurs & SMEs, an education system to provide a modern, practical, and innovative 360° preparation to pupils from every background, and the prioritization of a “Climate Revolution” to counter climate change.

With this European vision in mind, we aim to shape politics in individual European countries and local communities by prioritising and adapting policies according to the specific context and citizens’ needs.

The plan is ambitious:

  • Create a political program, informed by as many progressive and informed voices as possible, that speaks to the dreams and needs of young Europeans while ensuring progress and economic renaissance in Europe;
  • Form a fully fledged pan-European party that connects the local, national, and European political spheres across EU member states and local communities;
  • Launch a campaign to run for the 2019 European Parliamentary elections with quality candidates on Volt lists in as many EU Members States as possible.



conference on the politics of the European Union
June 2014, the Standing Group on the EU organized the 7th pan-European conference on the politics of the European Union. 330 Researchers from all over the world participated to present papers on research questions concerning EU politics. The international conference dealt with following sections:
1. The economic crisis and the future of European integration: debates and solutions
2. Democracy, parties, citizens and interest representation in the EU 
3. EU Institutions: the new balance
4. Governance, innovation and regulation in the EU
5. Policy making and implementation: sectors and actors
6. Foreign and security policy, external relations and external governance
7. New methods, models, and approaches in EU studies

The EU is in the midst of an unprecedented economic turmoil which affects not only monetary and macro-economic policies but the legitimacy of the European project as a whole. This section addresses the causes, mechanisms, effects, spillovers and potential solutions to the crisis, as well as the implications of the crisis for individual member states and for European integration.

There was focus on democracy and representation in the EU broadly conceived. Papers on constitutional developments, legitimacy, norms and rights in the EU,  electoral politics, the role of political parties, the relationship between parties and voters, and citizen attitudes to issues of European integration, as well as with lobbying and interest mobilization in the EU came to the front.

The EU institutions are still coming to grips with the effects of the Eastern Enlargement and the reforms introduced with the Treaty of Lisbon. Papers dealt with the functioning and transformations of EU institutions, the patterns of inter-institutional conflict and cooperation, and the evolving balance of power.



Also the theoretical and empirical analysis of the new forms and tools of governance born in response to the crisis, as well as other innovative forms of governance in the EU, patterns of regulatory policy making, coordination, networks  in policy making, administrative and management innovations was discussed, as was the policy making in traditional sectors of EU activities, including but not restricted to internal market, social policy, environment, migration, consumer protection, etc. The section covered the process of development of EU policies as well as the analysis of the implementation, enforcement, and impact of the rules at the national level.
European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA)
Despite the intensive development of organizational structures, the European Union continues facing serious challenges in the international arena: from the responses to changes in Northern Africa to issues of energy security and relations with neighbours and new rising powers. Internally, institutional innovations such as the External Action Service need to be evaluated in terms of their ability to perform their envisaged functions. This section welcomed papers and panels touching on the whole spectrum of themes relevant for foreign policy, security and external action.

The study of European integration is rooted in diverse academic traditions and exhibits wide varieties of research philosophies and methodologies. This section collected papers that bring innovative methods, models, and approaches to the study of the EU, including but not restricted to experimental methods, statistical tools for causal inference, formal models, agent-based simulation, and other approaches that push the boundary of EU research.


Variable geometry   multi-level governance
page on variable geometry
Variable geometry is a proposed strategy for European integration, next the forms of multi-speed Europe and Europe a la carte.

'Variable-geometry' Europe is the term used to describe the idea of a method of differentiated integration (DI) which acknowledges that there are irreconcilable differences within the integration structure and therefore allows for a permanent separation between a group of Member States and a number of less developed integration units.

DI is considered to be a tool to achieve common aims and policies in
politics, social fields, economy, legislation and institutional issues to strengthen sovereignty or to enhance effective capacity.

On implementing multi-level governance in the European Union, a conference was held already 19 January 2010 by CEPS, The Ateliers of the Committee of the Regions (CoR's) and EPC, due to the outcome of the Cor's consultation on the White paper on multilevel governance. According to the report multilevel governance means coordinated action by the European Union, the Member States and local and regional authorities, based on partnership and aimed at drawing up and implementing EU policies.
The report recommends the development of appropriate tools to support participatory democracy in the regions. It recommends that territorial impact analysis should become standard practice in legislative and non-legislative proposals.
page on multilevel governance


conference The European Union: Seeking Responses for Emerging Challenges  

Eurosceptism is no option according to Dutch Minister of State Ben Knapen

"To admit euroscepticism is no option. This government looks very positive to Europe." This is what Ben Knapen said during an exchange of views with students and teachers of the Leiden University's Jean Monnet Center of Excellence. "Europe will become a less important player in the world and that is not a right development".

85% of all Dutch people does accept the fact that the Netherlands is a part of Europe. At the same time 'Brussel' is exciting negative feelings. Some Dutch people think for instance that we give up sovereignty.

Knapen concluded: "In a world wherein physical borders are less important more and more, that will also be obtained for sovereignty in the sense of national power for deciscion-making.

Take for instance the Norwegian example: not a EU-member and still faster in applying European regulation concerning business and trade than most of the member-states. Lost of sovereignty, in the sense of 'we have not a say anymore' is out of the question. As a part of Europe, the Netherlands is better capable to face world's challenges".

Opening AdPersonam Jean Monnet Chair on European Politics, Head of unit European Parliament Information Office and Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation
Jean Monnet Programme is the project on challenges of European politics and aims to enhance knowledge and understanding about (the process of) European integration and the working of the European institutions. The programme also stimulates teaching, research and reflection on European integration in higher education institutions worldwide. For more information, check the website of the European Commission.

Leiden University Public Administration (FGGA) in the Netherlands was granted support for the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence Programme on European integration and the working of the European institutions, which programme ended February 2018. Leiden University, the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael, the Hague University of Applied Sciences, Montesquieu Institute and some associate members worked together to draw attention to European integration. This collaboration took the shape of a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, which is recognised and was partly funded by the EU.

Support for the Jean Monnet programme came from the Lifelong Learning Programme. The European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme enables people at all stages of life to take part in stimulating learning experiences, as well as to help develop the education and training sector across Europe. The Jean Monnet Centre is planning different activities to increase knowledge about Europe and start a dialogue about the whats and whys of the European Union. In concrete terms up to 31 August, 2013 there were a number of debates, a conference, a range of publications, two Honours Classes and two Master's Classes. Research was related to European integration and the functioning of the EU, especially emerging challenges and responses. 1 April 2011 the first Annual Conference of European Union Researchers was organised, that aimed to present research on key or emerging themes in European Integration and European Union studies. This research is being conducted by researchers from different disciplines associated with the Centre of Excellence institutions in the region of Leiden/The Hague. A very wide range of topics pertaining to the (new) challenges the EU was faced and the responses the Union and its member states devised to these challenges. The conference was also open to selected students as participants and attendants. During the first annual conference, called 'The European Union: Seeking Responses for Emerging Challenges', not only ca. 20 observers were present, but also 24 participants, who edited and delivered presentations. Panel selection:

A. Implementation and coordination in the EU's multi-level system of governance;
B. New developments in Justice and Home Affairs: legal aspects and policy implications;
C. Non-state actors and the EU: lobbying, NGOs;
D. The changing role of the EU in the world: challenges and opportunities.
Selected presentation themes during this conference:

Panel A
"New delegation structures under the Lisbon Treaty and the future of comitology', 'Compliance with EU law in Central and Eastern Europe: A Success Story?', EU High Politics: The Policy Agenda of the European Council', 'National Parliaments and the EU', Cross-sectoral EU law enforcement networking', 'European discourses on Turkey's accession to the EU', 'Economic Governance: From Intentions to Results' and 'Implementation in the EU'.

Panel B
'Recent developments in the area of citizens' rights in
Justice and Home Affairs', Rights of non-EU citizens based on the EU Association Agreements with non Member States', European student mobility and national policies on higher education: challenges and dilemmas', Copyright & Freedom of expression in Europe', 'Asylum Recognition Rates in the European Union: Trends and Patterns', 'An Inquiry in Human Subjectivity in the European Union Area of Freedom, Security and Justice', 'A constructivist-discursive perspective on decision-making in EU's criminal justice cooperation', EU accession to the ECHR'.

Panel C
'Europeanization of national bureaucracy-interest group interactions in The Netherlands', 'Deliberation, emancipation and political acculturation in EU lobbying', 'Lobbyists & Decision Makers'.

Panel D
'Is the EU a Model?', 'EU in the UN', 'External Dimension of Justice and Home Affairs beyond Lisbon and Stockholm outlining recent developments and how this is affecting EU's external relations with third countries', 'Baron van Münchausen and the Euro', 'Schuman's Europe'.