As soon as the US Democratic presidential candidate Biden announced his victory, European leaders expressed their congratulations and looked forward to working with the new US government to repair transatlantic relations.
However, there has been a debate within the EU recently about “Biden is elected president, is European sovereignty necessary?” So, can the European sovereignty construction that was awakened by US President Trump’s “America First” continue?
Germany looks forward to continuing to rely on U.S. military protection
On November 2, the German Defense Minister Karen Bauer stated in an interview with the US “politician” news network that Europe will still have to continue to rely on US military protection.
In this regard, French President Macron said on the 16th that he totally disagrees with Karenbauer’s view that Europe must have its own defensive sovereignty.
On the 17th, Karenbauer responded to Macron and said that although she also agreed with Europe’s autonomous strategy for decades, without the help of the United States and NATO, Europe would not be able to guarantee its own security. Why did the German Defense Minister make such a statement?
First of all, it is anxious to repair German-American relations. The relationship between Germany and the United States under Trump’s administration has been in a state of tension. The United States has taken turns to exert pressure in areas such as tariffs, withdrawal, and the “Beixi-2” project.
As a result, the Germans showed some uncontrollable joy at Biden’s victory, believing that the Biden administration will undergo profound changes in its governance style and policies.
Second, Germany is worried that the continued withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the Middle East will lead to a re-emergence of immigration into Europe.
Germany’s 2021 general election is about to begin, and the transfer of financial payments and refugee issues in response to the impact of the epidemic may become campaign topics.
More importantly, Germany is dubious about European sovereignty and the goal of “strategic autonomy”. It has always held a “strategic ambiguity” stance on transatlantic relations.
It not only supports the establishment of an independent European foreign security policy, but also tries its best to maintain its security alliance with the United States.
France hopes the U.S. will not weaken European sovereignty
France also welcomes Biden to bring about a harmonious transatlantic relationship. Macron welcomed the return of the United States to the world multilateral order and hoped that the United States would not hinder Europe from strengthening its strategic autonomous construction.
Macron worried that Europe’s high expectations of Biden would weaken European sovereignty. The construction of European sovereignty has been the core of France’s European strategy since Macron took office.
On November 18, 2018, Macron called for the strengthening of European sovereignty in the Berlin Parliament and proposed that France and Germany join forces to make Europe play a stronger and more confident role in the world.
In February 2020, Macron proposed in a speech at the French Military Academy that in the face of the conventional and even nuclear arms race that may appear in Europe in the future, Europe should become an autonomous role in national defense and possible nuclear fields.
In response to Biden’s victory, French Foreign Minister Le Drian pointed out that France is ready to defend European sovereignty when establishing relations with the new president of the United States, and the European Union has confirmed its sovereignty in terms of security, defense and strategy, no matter who the US president is, France and Europe.
All should continue to work on important issues such as reaching a digital tax agreement and strengthening green transformation.
The EU needs independent strategic thinking
The EU has always actively supported Europe’s “strategic autonomy” and the construction of European sovereignty. As early as September 2018, the then European Commission President Juncker delivered a message in the European Parliament with the theme “European Sovereign Moment”, proposing that Europe must become a more sovereign actor in international relations.
In recent days, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Borelli emphasized that the EU needs independent strategic thinking, and strategic autonomy is not a luxury, nor is it an illusion.
Although the concept of European sovereignty is vague, the EU aims to use it as a practical means to safeguard European interests. The extraterritoriality of the United States often causes huge losses to European interests.
The “Beixi-2” project, which concerns the security of EU natural gas supply and the investment interests of European companies, is threatened by US sanctions, and the EU digital market is monopolized by US technology giants.
The construction of European sovereignty that Macron actively advocates has been echoed by Merkel. However, as Merkel resigns next year, how the new German leader recognizes the strategic meaning of European sovereignty is an uncertain issue for France, and Karenbauer’s statement is undoubtedly pouring cold water.
European independent foreign policy decisions are obviously extremely necessary. The European integration process after World War II created peace and stability in Europe and contributed to the innovative concept of regional co-governance.
However, the EU’s obsession with “security collectivization”, strategic alliances and other outdated ways of thinking are not the best strategy for safeguarding its own security interests and enhancing international competitiveness, and it also contradicts the needs of global value chains and climate change challenges.