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13 Nov, 2022 11:52

French FM calls for more EU autonomy from US

Catherine Colonna says the bloc's members should be less preoccupied with American election results
French FM calls for more EU autonomy from US

Europe needs greater autonomy from the US in order to stop worrying so much about the outcome of elections, the French foreign minister has argued. Catherine Colonna also stressed that trans-Atlantic ties should remain strong.

In an interview with Le Parisien newspaper published on Saturday, Colonna was asked for her views on the US midterm elections. The minister described the race as “interesting,” noting that the Republicans have not performed as well as predicted.

The diplomat highlighted Europe’s reaction to the results, saying: “if [they] do not want to be held in suspense at each American election, they must find the path to greater autonomy,” although this “does not mean greater distance from the United States.

In the interview, Colonna noted that France and Germany are seeking to further strengthen their partnership, and that President Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Olaf Scholz see the Franco-German alliance as “a driving force for Europe.

The diplomat welcomed Berlin’s decision to increase its military spending, adding that individual nations’ efforts should have the shared goal of strengthening “European sovereignty.

The foreign minister’s remarks come at a time of trans-Atlantic trade tensions. Last month, news website Politico claimed that Paris and Berlin had reached an agreement on EU retaliatory measures, which would be put in place should the US go ahead with planned tax cuts and energy benefits, aimed at encouraging firms to shift production stateside. Macron and Scholz reportedly agreed that the American state subsidy plan would constitute unfair competition, and should not go unanswered.

Appearing on the TV channel France 2, President Macron said at the time that he and the German chancellor had “a real convergence to move forward on the topic.

Back in September, the Wall Street Journal reported that a number of European companies “that make steel, fertilizer and other feedstocks of economic activity are shifting operations to the US.” According to the article, soaring gas prices in Europe were one of the main factors behind the businesses’ decision. On top of that, “muscular government support” stateside also reportedly played a role.

The paper singled out Danish jewelry company Pandora A/S and German automaker Volkswagen AG as some of the European businesses expanding production in the US.

The energy crisis in Europe began as the Covid 19 pandemic subsided in 2021, and was aggravated by Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine in late February this year, and the subsequent Western sanctions against Moscow.