Emmanuel Macron urged Europe to develop more strategic autonomy as a way to avoid the risk of turning EU countries into “vassals” in the event of a global crisis such as a U.S.-China confrontation.
“Strategic autonomy must be the battle of Europe,” the French president told the business daily Les Echos during last week’s visit to China. “We don’t want to depend on others for critical topics,” Macron said in the interview, published on Sunday, citing issues such as energy, defense, social media and artificial intelligence. Similar comments were published by Politico.
Macron warned against what he called the “extraterritoriality” of the U.S. dollar, which can force European companies to forgo business with third countries or risk sanctions violations.
“If the tensions between the two superpowers heat up … we won’t have the time nor the resources to finance our strategic autonomy and we will become vassals,” Macron told Politico.
During Macron’s visit to China, traveling with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, he sought to delineate a difference in relations compared with the United States’ tougher approach to Beijing. Europe is looking to strike a balance by engaging with China on trade and investment while demanding respect for human rights and territorial sovereignty for Ukraine, among others.
The interviews were conducted before China held military drills around Taiwan on Saturday in retaliation for the visit to the U.S. last week by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen. China has pledged to bring Taiwan under its control someday, by force if necessary. Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party asserts Taiwan is an independent nation.
“The question Europeans need to answer is, is it in our interest to accelerate (a crisis) on Taiwan? No,” Macron told Politico. “The worst thing would be to think that we Europeans must become followers on this topic and take our cue from the U.S. agenda and a Chinese overreaction.”
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