Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

‘Strategic autonomy’ is a French pipe dream

By Anchal Vohra

03 Jul 2023 · 6 min read

informed Summary

  1. French President Emmanuel Macron has reignited the debate about France's project of seeking "strategic autonomy" for Europe—the goal of independence from the U.S. in strategic and defense matters.

In April, French President Emmanuel Macron sparked a controversy when he warned Europe against being drawn into a conflict between the United States and China over Taiwan. Being the United States’ allies, he said, didn’t require being its “vassals.”

The comments reignited the debate about France’s project of seeking “strategic autonomy” for Europe—that is, independence from the United States in strategic matters. That idea rattles Central and Eastern European states that trust the United States to be their prime security guarantor in a conflict with Russia. They suspect France of falsely presenting ideas that enhance its stature, while vexing the United States, as the product of collective European thinking.

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