European Political Cooperation
The European Political Cooperation (EPC) was introduced in 1970 and was the synonym for European Union foreign policy coordination until it was superseded by the Common Foreign and Security Policy in the Maastricht Treaty of November 1993.
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In the 1950s and 1960s, the EC member states tried twice to give the internal market a foreign policy dimension but failed on both attempts. The idea of the supranational European Defence Community came about following a summit in The Hague (1969) in which the EC heads of state and government instructed their foreign ministers to "study the best way of achieving progress in the matter of political unification, within the context of enlargement." The foreign ministers subsequently drafted the Luxembourg/Davignon report (1970), which created an informal intergovernmental consultation mechanism where member states could achieve "politics of scale" (Ginsberg, 1989).
While EPC adopted the intergovernmental nature of the Fouchet Plans, it disregarded the 'French grandeur' of the Charles de Gaulle era. The involvement of the United Kingdom guaranteed its Atlanticist nature. The European Commission would furthermore be able to express its opinion if matters within its competencies were concerned. Finally, the EPC did not have the strong Paris-based Secretariat of the Fouchet proposals. The Netherlands had always been anxious about this idea, as they thought that it might turn into a competitor for the European Commission. The EPC was amended and strengthened in the Copenhagen report (1973) and London report (1981). It was codified (formalized) with the Single European Act (1986).
The EPC turned out to be a "mixed success." During the 1970s, it was an active player in the Middle East conflict and in the creation of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, the predecessor of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The Soviet–Afghan War (1979) and the handling of the Yugoslav Wars (1991–1995), however, showed the weakness of the EPC.
- The Hague Communiqué 1969, article 15.
Highly recommended reading
- Nuttall, S.J. (1992), European Political Co-operation, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- Smith, M.E. (2004), Europe’s Foreign and Security Policy: The Institutionalization of Cooperation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Allen, D., Rummel, R. & Wessels, W. (1982), European Political Cooperation: Towards a Foreign Policy for Western Europe, London: Butterworth Scientific.
- Ginsberg, R.H. (1989), Foreign Policy Actions of the European Community: The Politics of Scale, Boulder: Lynne Rienner.
- Holland, M. (ed.) (1991), The Future of European Political Cooperation: Essays in Theory and Practice, Basingstoke: Macmillan.
- Pijpers, A. et al. (eds.), European Political Cooperation in the 1980s: A Common Foreign Policy for Western Europe?, Dordrecht: M. Nijhoff.
- Regelsberger, E., De Schoutheete de Tervarent, P. & Wessels, W. (eds.) (1997), Foreign Policy of the European Union: From EPC to CFSP and Beyond, London: Lynne Rienner.
- Smith, H. (2002), European Union Foreign Policy: What it is and What is Does London: Pluto Press.