Let us now listen, says Europe

Anyone who has ever sat through inconclusive meetings at work might relate to leaders from nearly 50 European countries participating in a summit last week. Although topics ranged from Ukraine to immigration, the summit ended Oct. 5 with no action steps, or “deliverables.” Yet that was by design. The purpose of this latest gathering of the European Political Community was simply to listen and reflect in the spirit of equality. The usual dynamics of power were left at the door.

The informal forum was set up by French President Emmanuel Macron in 2022 after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. One aim is to build trust and create respectful deliberation among the European Union’s 27 members and 20 non-EU-affiliated countries, many of which seek to join the bloc. The summit’s tone of humility was reflected by President Macron himself. In June, he apologized to many Eastern European countries for not heeding their warnings about Russian aggression.

“We did not always hear the voices you brought,” he said. “That time is over.”