President Macron urged Europe to break away from its economic dependence on both the US and China in a speech in The Hague yesterday. The French president is causing a furor since he appears unwilling to support Washington against Beijing.
According to The Times, Macron described China and the United States as twin threats to the “strategic autonomy” that he believes is crucial to the “sovereignty” of the EU in areas such as industry, energy technology, defence, agriculture and climate change.
This comes just after Macron faced massive international criticism for his remarks during his recent visit to Beijing, in which he said Europe was not involved in the US’s tough approach to China and the conflict over Taiwan.
Macron would prefer the EU to become a third superpower rather than a vassal of the US and/or China, he said.
Not even when travelling abroad does Macron get away from protesters, writes NTB.
When Marcon and the Dutch king Willem-Alexander were visiting the university in Amsterdam, two people are said to have run up to Macron and sang the French protest song “On est là”.
This song is widely used in the demonstrations and strikes resulting from the pension reform that Macron adopted through a decree. On Friday, France’s Constitutional Council will decide whether the decree is valid.
Macron went on to say that the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have made Europe realise that they are dependent on major powers to fix problems. If the continent is to achieve sovereignty, they must bet hard on their own industrial policy and meddle in the world markets in the same way as Beijing and Washington.
How Macron envisages that an industrial super-growth can take place in an EU mired in bureaucracy, energy shortages and a lack of innovation is unclear.
Macron gave his speech in English. Here are some extracts, where the first paragraph is about an aggressive industrial policy.
The US has one. China has one. . . Europe must have one to be sure that you are not trapped in a crazy situation the day something happens.
To achieve this, Europe must develop its energy sector, according to Macron. But Germany continues to decommission the last vestiges of nuclear power, so things look pretty bleak that way.
We want allies. We want to be good friends. We want partners. But we always want to be in a situation to choose them, not to be 100 percent dependent on them.
France is in violent decline, with internal strife on several fronts. Macron has bigger ambitions, and wants to recreate French and European greatness. But the question is whether he is too late and whether he will find any supporters.
In any case, his statement that China and the USA are two equal threats to Europe’s sovereignty will probably cause reactions. The parliamentary group of the German Social Democrats (SPD) has already reacted.
It’s a grave mistake for the West to allow itself to be divided in its approach to Beijing, of all things. This weakens our western community of values.
Antoine Bondaz, researcher at the Paris Foundation for Strategic Research, believes Macron has made a total mistake in his analysis. Republicans in Washington D.C. accused Macron of being “ungrateful”, perhaps thinking of the liberation of France in 1944-45, which was largely carried out by American forces.
The White House is not as concerned, and says it has full confidence in relations with France, despite Macron’s statements.
Macron used his argument about European sovereignty in response to protesters who disrupted the speech and shouted in English: “Where is the French democracy? When did we lose it?”
New strikes and demonstrations are planned for tomorrow in France. Macron is fighting an uphill battle on all sides.