Europe’s new club meets without Russia

  • 44 Europeans meet in Prague for symbolic summit
  • Energy and safety are high on everyone’s mind
  • Truss’ involvement gives hope for better EU-UK ties
  • Doubts about the viability of the European large format
  • EU 27 will continue with its own summit, gasoline limit on the menu

PRAGUE, Oct 6 (Reuters) – The European Union and its neighbors from Britain to Turkey met on Thursday to discuss shared security and energy problems stemming from Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine at a rare summit and symbolic of 44 European countries, but not of Russia.

The Prague meeting is the inaugural summit of the European Political Community (EPC), a format that is the brainchild of French President Emmanuel Macron and brings together the 27 members of the European Union with 17 other European countries.

Some of them hope to join the bloc, while another, Britain, is the only one to leave.

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“Everyone gathered here knows: Russia’s attack on Ukraine is a brutal violation of the peace and security order that we have had for the last decades in Europe,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

“We do not accept that part of a neighboring country be annexed.”

His comments were echoed by Belgium’s Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo, as well as the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell.

“This meeting is a way to seek a new order without Russia. It does not mean that we want to exclude Russia forever, but this Russia, the Russia of (President Vladimir) Putin, has no seat,” Borrell said.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss, after meeting with summit host Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, underlined their “strong agreement on the importance of like-minded European democracies presenting a united front against Putin’s brutality.” “.

His decision to attend the summit led some to hope for a warmer tone between the EU and post-Brexit London, where the two are still at loggerheads over trade issues over Northern Ireland.

The gathering at sprawling Prague Castle is seen by supporters as a grand show of solidarity for a continent mired in multiple crises, from the security fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine to dire economic fallout, including an acute energy crisis. .

Macron said his priority was to build more electricity connections in Europe and lower gas prices.

“We share the same space. Very often the same history. And we are destined to write our future together,” he said. “I hope we can get common projects.”


Beyond the high declarations, there were doubts about the objectives and concrete actions of the forum.

Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said no decisions were expected at the symbolic meeting that the EU had billed as just an “initial exchange” of thoughts.

“The main goal is that we all come together because the Russian war in Ukraine is affecting all of us in the sense of security and also through our economies, through the increase in energy costs. The only way to handle this is by working together,” he said.

The EPC was quickly dismissed by some as just another forum for conversation, one that will be unwieldy not only because of its size but also because of its diversity and the traditional rivalries between many of its members, from Armenia and Azerbaijan to Greece and Turkey.

The 27 EU countries will meet on their own on Friday, with tensions surrounding Germany’s 200 billion euro ($197.5 billion) energy support package seen by many of their peers as damaging to competition in the market. unique on the block.

At their meeting, EU countries will discuss their differences on how to cap gas prices to contain high energy costs that are hurting the post-COVID economic recovery.

($1 = 1.0127 euros)

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Reporting by Sabine Siebold, Michel Rose, Robert Muller, Jan Lopatka, Michel Kahn, Jason Hovet, Andreas Rinke in Prague, Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels; Written by John Chalmers and Gabriela Baczynska; Edited by Josie Kao, Frank Jack Daniel and Frances Kerry

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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