During a trip to China, French President Emmanuel Macron has suggested that Europe should aim to become a “third superpower.” A key part of this strategy would be reducing Europe’s dependency on the US and avoiding getting dragged into a confrontation between the US and China over Taiwan. Macron’s theory of “strategic autonomy” for Europe has been endorsed by China, whose leaders believe weakening the transatlantic relationship will help China rise in dominance. The EU is keen to accept a world where China becomes a regional hegemon due to the opportunities it may create. The French President argues that Europe needs to focus on boosting European defence industries and reducing its dependence on the “extraterritoriality of the U.S. dollar.”
Macron cited fears of Europe becoming a vassal state if it does not reduce dependency on the US. He specifically cited US sanctions against Russia, China, Iran and other countries, which are based on US control of the global financial system, with many in Europe complaining about “weaponization” of the dollar by Washington. Russia and China have also promoted their own currencies to enhance autonomy in recent years.
Macron’s idea of increasing Europe’s autonomy resonates with the EU’s aspirations of becoming a superpower able to preserve its way of life in the increasingly difficult geopolitical landscape. But it remains to be seen how the EU would achieve this objective given the continuing dependence on US security guarantees. Furthermore, Macron’s comments signal a potential future rift between the EU and the US. The EU is currently seeking an alliance with the US to resolve certain trading issues as they face the threat of Chinese business practices, raising questions as to whether autonomy from the US could lead to more problems than solutions.