French President Emmanuel Macron stated at the 2024 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting that the European Union and European countries need to “establish sovereignty” within the next two years and strive to reduce reliance on external countries such as the United States. He emphasized the need to engage with Asian and African countries as Europeans, rather than being seen as followers of the United States.
Macron stated that the EU needs to decide whether to “have sovereignty” between 2024 and 2025. The EU needs to make crucial decisions, including determining its stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, cooperation with neighboring countries, and ensuring peace and stability in the Middle East and Africa. He also pointed out that the EU needs to create more job opportunities and increase investments in areas such as artificial intelligence, space, defense, and chips.
“I believe these are the pillars of a sovereignty strategy,” Macron said. “If we can unite, invest and innovate strongly in these areas, if we can convince business leaders to implement solutions, if we make bold diplomatic decisions, then we can achieve the related agenda.”
Macron believes that European countries must pay more attention to investment and develop an economic agenda based on innovation and industrialization. “This is absolutely crucial if we want to avoid a major crisis, which will take ten years to achieve. Therefore, we must avoid escalating the situation, and I am among those who do not advocate exacerbating tensions between China and the United States.”
Macron also emphasized that European countries should not overly rely on the United States to avoid falling under the influence of “dollar hegemony.” He reiterated that the goal of the European Union is to reduce dependence on other major powers and maintaining sovereignty is essential for Europe to uphold its influence in the world. “The EU needs to engage with Asia, Africa, and other countries as Europeans, rather than being seen as completely dependent on the United States.”
Regarding the Sino-French relationship, Macron claimed that France maintains a partnership with China but will adhere to a “risk management strategy” in its relations with China.
According to Bloomberg, this is Macron’s first attendance at the World Economic Forum since 2018. Currently, France is facing challenges such as rising unemployment and significantly slower economic growth. Due to increased debt during the pandemic and energy crisis, French leaders have limited room for increased public spending.
Previously, Macron has repeatedly emphasized the importance of strategic autonomy for Europe in public forums. In April of last year, during his visit to China, Macron stated in an interview with the French newspaper “lesEchos” that Europe must further promote strategic autonomy and become a third pole beyond China and the United States to avoid European countries becoming “vassals” and ultimately “abandoned by history.”
On April 11th last year, while visiting the Netherlands, Macron delivered a speech emphasizing that Europe should safeguard its economic sovereignty. Only by doing so can Europe independently choose its partners and have control over its own destiny. He pointed out that independence and autonomy are crucial for Europe, stating, “Once you lose sovereignty or rely on other major powers, you will not be able to be in charge.”
The recent escalating situation in the Red Sea region has seen the United States forming the “Sentinel Prosperity” multinational maritime security alliance to prevent Houthi attacks on commercial ships. The United States, together with the United Kingdom, has also conducted airstrikes on targets related to the Houthi armed group within Yemen. However, France, Italy, and Spain have chosen to distance themselves from the actions of the United States, refusing to participate in the strikes against the Houthi armed group. Reuters reported that these three countries are inclined to participate in actions under the framework of the European Union to de-escalate the situation in the Red Sea.Furthermore, the 2024 US presidential election recently kicked off in Iowa, with former President Donald Trump winning the first Republican primary. Macron, however, maintains a cautious stance regarding this outcome. On January 16th, Macron stated in a press conference that regardless of who the United States elects as its leader, he can accept it and is willing to engage in dialogue with anyone regarding France’s concerns and interests.