France’s Macron Renews Call for a Sovereign Europe Less Reliant on Foreign Powers
French president’s remarks follow criticism over his warning that Europe should steer clear of U.S.-China tensions over Taiwan
French President Emmanuel Macron called on Europe to forge its own sovereignty in an address that risks heightening trans-Atlantic tensions after he said on a trip to China last week that Europe shouldn’t be pulled into tensions between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan.
Mr. Macron delivered the speech Tuesday at The Hague, where the French leader began a two-day state visit to the Netherlands. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr. Macron said, had exposed Europe’s reliance on foreign suppliers of essentials like medicine and energy. Europe has turned to the U.S. for natural gas deliveries that have allowed it to end its decadeslong dependence on Russian supplies.
“If you accept to depend on other powers, you put yourself in a situation not to decide for yourself,” Mr. Macron said. “Defending sovereignty doesn’t mean to shy away from our allies, it means we must be able to choose our partners and shape our own destiny,” he added.
Most European leaders refrained from commenting on the French president’s remarks, but privately officials from Brussels to the Baltics said they had damaged Europe’s standing.
French officials said Mr. Macron’s comments were being overinterpreted and his position on Taiwan hadn’t changed. France is a U.S. ally, with whom Paris shares common values, and China is a partner, a competitor and a systemic rival, the officials said.
Marc Julienne, the lead China analyst at the French Institute of International Relations, said the bigger problem wasn’t what Mr. Macron said, but what he didn’t say during the China visit. Mr. Macron didn’t publicly reiterate that France supported Taiwan’s status quo and that any attempt to change it by the use of force would be unacceptable, Mr. Julienne said.
“France needs to clarify its position vis-à-vis China,” Marc Julienne said.
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