By Kinga Brudzinska – The idea of EU strategic autonomy originated in the field of security and defence in St. Malo Declaration (1998) and later in the 2016 EU Global Strategy. But it was not until French President Emmanuel Macron’s speech at Paris’ Sorbonne University in September 2017 that the concept has started to evolve and expand to other policy fields (encompassing i.e. industrial and technological independence) and has gained ground in Brussels and the EU capitals.
In the face of the COVID-19 recovery, a rivalry between the US and China on the global stage and the EU’s ambitions to bolster its position in the world, the debate on Europe’s ‘strategic autonomy’ and its freedom to act, has been receiving even more prominence. Not always in a positive sense.
While some European leaders see the EU’s ability to act autonomously and more independently from the United States as a political imperative to enable the continent to decide its own future without overly depending on others, others look at it with more reservation and skepticism.
For example, in Eastern Europe, together with the Baltics – countries’ with a strong pro-American orientation – fear that investing in European strategic autonomy will weaken the long-standing transatlantic bond and will become a synonym for protectionism, especially without the UK in the EU. There is also an old distrust in the EU, including in Eastern Europe, about France’s real intentions. As noticed by the Economist, in short, the idea of “strategic autonomy” and “sovereignty” has exposed old cracks within the European Union over how far Europe should, or could, do more to defend itself. more>