European Political Cooperation

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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(EPC) was introduced in 1970 and was the synonym for European Union foreign policy coordination until it was superseded by the Common Foreign and Security Policy in the Maastricht Treaty (November 1993).

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the EC member states tried to give the internal market a foreign policy dimension, but failed twice. The idea of the supranational European Defence Community of State and Government instructed their Foreign Ministers during The Hague summit (1969), to "study the best way of achieving progress in the matter of political unification, within the context of enlargement".[1] 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 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 Cooperation in Europe, the predecessor of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979) and the handling of the Yugoslav Wars (1991-1995), however, showed the weakness of the EPC.

In force
Brussels Treaty
Paris Treaty
Modified Brussels Treaty
Rome treaties
Merger Treaty
European Council conclusion
Schengen Treaty
Single European Act
Maastricht Treaty
Amsterdam Treaty
Nice Treaty
Lisbon Treaty
Three pillars of the European Union:  
European Communities:  
European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM)   
European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty expired in 2002 European Union (EU)
    European Economic Community (EEC)
        Schengen Rules   European Community (EC)
    TREVI Justice and Home Affairs (JHA)  
  Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters (PJCC)
          European Political Cooperation (EPC) Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)
Unconsolidated bodies Western European Union (WEU)    
Treaty terminated in 2011  

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.