Macron Urges EU to Boost Defense, Finance Autonomy From U.S.

(Bloomberg) -- French President Emmanuel Macron called on Europe to build its financial and defense autonomy in response to the shifting balance of power as partners like the U.S. “turn their back” on the current world order.

“The real question for Europe is if China and the U.S. see Europe as being strategically autonomous; today they don’t,” Macron told French ambassadors in Paris on Monday during the president’s annual foreign-policy speech. “Europe can no longer rely solely on the United States for its security. We must guarantee our own security and sovereignty.”

Echoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s calls 24 hours earlier for a more assertive European Union in the face of President Donald Trump’s protectionism, Macron said the alliances designed after the Cold War must be revised and that Europe must now change the “architecture” of its defense and security systems. Merkel is due to visit to Paris in early September for talks on Europe’s future with Macron.

In his 90-minute speech, Macron said that France will propose an initiative to beef up the “solidarity” system laid out in the EU’s collective defense clause, an article first invoked following the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. By focusing on Article 42.7 of the EU constitution rather than NATO’s equivalent Article 5, the French president sent a signal that the bloc needs to be able to defend itself without the U.S.

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The “aggressive” U.S. stance against multilateralism and its extra-territorial moves against Europe are another reason for the continent to build its autonomy, said Macron. Still, he called for continued dialogue with Washington, adding that U.S. unilateralism didn’t begin under Trump, but followed on from actions taken by the Obama administration.

Macron also called for a global review of trade and security cooperation when nations gather in Paris in November to mark the centenary of the end of World War I. France will organize trade discussions as well as a “peace forum” on the sidelines of the ceremonies, Macron said, adding that the “failures of global governance in the 1930s” led to the last world war.

“The real question is not to know if I will be holding Trump’s arm at the next summit, but how we will collectively face this moment of great changes that we are living through and that our societies are confronted with,” Macron said.

Reform of the World Trade Organization and of the Group of Seven are part of the French leader’s plan to adapt the current trade and political systems to the new reality. Macron said he’ll propose an overhaul of the G-7 by the end of the year -- ahead of France’s presidency of the group in 2019 and in cooperation with the U.S., which assumes the G-7’s rotating leadership in 2020.

“We can no longer reproduce this theater of shadows and divisions that is weakening us rather that making us go forward,” he said.

For Macron, the global reforms will have to be embarked upon at the same time as EU reforms he says are crucial since “we are in the middle of a European crisis.” He cited migration, nationalism and failings of EU institutions among the challenges.

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