France's push for strategic autonomy is a positive step for Europe
Bradley Blankenship
National flags of China and France. /Getty

National flags of China and France. /Getty

Editor's note: Bradley Blankenship is a Prague-based American journalist, political analyst and freelance reporter. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron held a phone conversation on October 26, in which Xi said that both sides, China and the EU, should maintain high-level communication in order to build mutual understanding and trust. 

Likewise, Macron said his country is firmly committed to helping deepen EU-China relations and resolving issues, even saying that he hopes the two sides' joint Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), which is now stopped up in the European Parliament, will come into effect soon.

This is an important conversation because EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell is currently drafting a "Strategic Compass" for the 27-nation bloc that will outline a definitive stance regarding competition between the United States and China.

So far, the EU has taken a confusing, often contradictory stance and it's unclear what Borrell will outline. However, Macron has been one of the bloc's leading advocates in pushing for the EU's strategic autonomy. 

Paris has been particularly upset with the status quo in transatlantic relations over the years, not only because of the difficult years under former U.S. President Donald Trump, but also because of two recent events: the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan and the cloak-and-dagger AUKUS security pact, both of which happened under U.S. President Joe Biden.

With these transgressions in mind, Paris was able to flex its muscles and push for a common European defense apparatus – details yet to be hashed out – that will "complement" NATO, but will indeed make the premiere transatlantic defense alliance, which is already facing an existential crisis, less relevant. 

France's ability to push for greater EU strategic autonomy, however, is just beginning. This is because Paris will hold the Presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of next year, meaning it can actively shape the bloc's agenda at a pivotal moment.

Two important foreign policy matters are slated for this timeframe: the finalization of the strategic compass and the 2022 NATO Summit in Madrid, where the alliance's leaders will draft a new "strategic concept" document. 

If Paris pushes for greater strategic autonomy during this time, meaning the bloc will not simply defer to Washington's cold war mindset against Beijing and instead chart a future based on its own interests, this would be a very responsible move. That's because the EU is being bogged down by its one-sided relationship with the unreliable, flailing power across the Atlantic. 

The EU has everything it needs to be a distinct geopolitical power. It is highly developed, highly educated and collectively holds the third-largest economy by GDP in the world behind the U.S. and China. 

The EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, October, 2020. /Getty

The EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, October, 2020. /Getty

Really, there's no reason that the EU has to mechanically follow the U.S. into decline since it doesn't suffer many of the same fatal contradictions, such as outdated infrastructure or lack of access to healthcare and education. The EU actually stands to benefit from staking out a pragmatic position on this issue. 

I should first say that trying to "contain" China's resurgence on the world stage, as the U.S. is trying to do, is abjectly immoral because this resurgence has also been accompanied by the largest anti-poverty campaign in the history of our species. Any attempt to "contain," impede or reverse this is inhumane on its face and deserves no further clarification. 

But what makes this even more absurd is that even if plain self-interest is the most important factor here, China's resurgence has also translated to a ballooning middle class eager to buy consumer goods. This means that China's economic growth will benefit people around the world, including in Europe, which was the point of the EU-China CAI in the first place.

China already overtook the U.S. as the EU's largest trade partner in 2020, with trade reaching 586 billion euros, compared to 555 billion euros between the U.S. and EU, according to stats published by Eurostat. 

With the ratification of the CAI, this would only deepen and create a trade balance that would see more European goods in China to satiate the demands of China's consumers. According to predictions by analysts from Morgan Stanley early this year, China's consumer spending will double by 2030 to approximately $12.7 trillion, which is about what American consumers spend right now. 

Despite the direction that some member states are unfortunately going these days, the need for deeper relations between the EU and China are plain as day. It's a clear win-win situation on every front. The opposite could be said for blind deference to Washington's new cold war, and that's why France's push for strategic autonomy is a positive, responsible step for Europe.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at

Search Trends