French President Emmanuel Macron called Monday for a strengthening of Europe’s strategic autonomy and the need to work toward an ideology with "a common reading of the world and of our intentions" in an interview with the Paris-based policy journal Le Grand Continent.
In "The Macron Doctrine: A Conversation with Emmanuel Macron," the president reflected on a year of crises and conflicting prerogatives yet one that gave rise to a chance to build a much stronger bloc as global priorities wax and wane and a new American president sets foot in the White House.
Macron detailed the myriad subjects on the global table, specifically the coronavirus and current health crisis as well as a fresh round of terrorism, Brexit and trade challenges, the climate crisis, and economic turmoil. At its heart most, he sees the need for a renewal of international cooperation and an insistence that Europe operate independently.
In the wake of US President-elect Joe Biden’s election win -- seen by many in Europe as a relief -- the question Macron lays out is this: "Will the change of American administration create a relaxation among Europeans?"
His answer involved acknowledging the US as a strong ally and lover of freedom and human rights but a nation that embodied substantial differences in values and notions of equality. The differences, however, do not negate the two countries’ lasting bond.
"I think that on the contrary, the change of the American administration is an opportunity to continue in a totally peaceful, quiet way which allies between them must understand: We need to continue to build our autonomy for ourselves, as the United States does it for them."
Macron also strongly disagreed with a piece published in Politico by German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in which the minister said "the illusion of European strategic autonomy must come to an end. Europeans will not be able to replace America's crucial role as a security provider."
He called her comments "a misnomer of history. Fortunately, the Chancellor [Angela Merkel] is not on that line, if I understand it correctly. But the United States will only respect us as allies if we are serious with ourselves and if we are sovereign with our own defense."
Macron's assessment of the present-day conundrum is that Europe, and indeed the world, is mired in a "crisis of the universality of values." He sees it not as a repeat of post-1945 Europe but something that offers a chance for a fruitful autonomy -- perhaps Enlightenment 2.0.
The president also called the fight against terrorism a European fight, a fight for values. The rights of the Republic must be fully respected.
"We have a common project; we are not multiculturalists," he said.
Europe, he said as well however, is at "a very deep breaking point of contemporary capitalism" guided by many inequalities.
Macron sees the way forward through clear principles and goals and "a common ideology and a common reading of the world, which is to show that we need, in the face of these challenges, to build effective cooperation."
Is there European sovereignty? "We’re not there yet," he said, at the same time recognizing the leadership of the European Commission and European Council in forming a strong bloc with a singular focus, a "coherent geographical space" in terms of values and interests, and a nostalgia for being European.
What, then, is Europe's common dream?
The Great European Project, as he deemed it, is at its heart to make Europe the leading educational, health, digital and green power, with a mobilizing impact that will pull in the superpowers of China and the US -- a tall order, for sure.