French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated his calls for the EU to maintain an independent foreign policy in a Sunday interview for French business daily Les Echo.
“We don’t want to get into a bloc versus bloc logic,” he said, arguing that Europe “should not be caught up in a disordering of the world and crises that aren’t ours.”
The remarks follow a visit to China by Macron and other EU officials which included a meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping. Among other issues, the leaders discussed tensions around Taiwan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Macron stressed that an escalation on Taiwan was not in the EU’s interest.
“The question asked of us Europeans is the following: is it in our interest for there to be acceleration on the topic of Taiwan? No. The worst thing we Europeans could do would be to be followers on this topic and to adapt to the American rhythm and a Chinese overreaction. Why should we go at a rhythm chosen by someone else?”
Macron calls for EU ‘strategic autonomy’
The French head of state stressed what he considered to be the need for the EU to develop “strategic autonomy,” a term used to refer to the bloc maintaining an independent foreign policy line.
“Europe hadn’t built this strategic autonomy for a long time,” he said. But “now the ideological battle has been won.”
“Five years ago, strategic autonomy was a pipe dream. Now everyone is talking about it,” he said.
Macron said that the EU’s member states should avoid becoming “vassals” and that the bloc could function as a “third pole” in geopolitics alongside the US and China. He warned against following American foreign policy as a “panic reflex.”
France’s president also called for increased military spending, saying: “History is speeding up, the European war economy needs to be sped up in parallel.”
“Europe’s defense industry does not meet all our needs and remains very fragmented,” he said, arguing that this causes the EU to rely on American and Asian suppliers.
Macron said that it was important for Brussels to “understand” China’s reasoning when it comes to Taiwan.
“As Europeans, our concern is our unity,” he said. “The Chinese are also concerned with their unity, and Taiwan is a component [of this unity] from their point of view.”
Tensions over Taiwan have increased over the past several months. China is currently conducting a series of military drills around the island.
Macron hopes China will bring Russia ‘to its senses
Macron meets Xi in Beijing
On Friday, Macron — together with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and other officials — met with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The EU leaders hope to convince Beijing to take on a bigger role in attempts to end the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Chinese state media had hailed Macron’s visit as an opportunity to “inject new momentum and bring new vitality to China-Europe relations.”
The Elysee Palace said that talks were “dense and frank.” It also said that Macron was concerned about “growing tensions in the region” that could lead to a “terrible accident.”