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EU’s Strategic Autonomy

Taking a firm stand which could have far-reaching geopolitical implications, French President Emmanuel Macron has exhorted the European Union (EU) to implement its policy of ‘strategic autonomy’ and desist from following the US or China on the Taiwan issue. Macron has urged EU’s member states to avoid becoming vassals and instead strive to make the bloc function as the ‘third pole’ alongside the US and China. His warning about the perils of following American foreign policy as a ‘panic reflex’ is bound to strain US-Europe ties. It’s obvious that he wants EU to hold its ground and safeguard its interests rather than getting embroiled in the great power rivalry.

The French President’s remarks come days after his visit to Beijing, where he told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping that there could not be a safe and stable Europe as long as Ukraine remained occupied. Macron also stated that he was counting on Xi to ‘bring Russia to its senses’. This endorsement of China’s peace plan, which is aimed at facilitating the end of the year-old Ukraine war, again won’t be music to Washington’s ears. The growing diplomatic engagement of France and other European countries with China indicates that the EU is not keen on mindlessly toeing the US line.

Macron’s appeal to the European defence industry to reduce its dependence on US suppliers will have a bearing on America’s leadership of NATO, whose push for eastward expansion acted as a trigger for the Ukraine war. With China-America relations hitting a new low after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen visited the US last week despite Beijing’s objections, it will be a tightrope walk for the EU to stay neutral. The lesson for the US is that it can’t take Europe’s unstinting support for granted any more. Even China, which has brazenly conducted combat drills with the objective of intimidating Taiwan, needs to realise that this influential bloc of nations cannot be trifled with. A stronger and more assertive EU augurs well for a much-needed multipolar world order, provided Macron and other leaders remain on the same page. 

Source : The Tribune