In Brussels, we are constantly trying to identify the political trends of the coming months. There are special variables in the autumn of 2021, either related to the evolution of the health crisis, the elections in Germany or France, but also in relation to the impact of the Afghan case to European society.
The debate on the future of Europe is officially launched and we look forward to seeing its miraculous conclusions in the March 2022 report. Let me anticipate the main conclusion of the report over 6 months, even before the thematic conferences and mid-term evaluation.
A difficult-to-identify procedure now seeks to gather the views of the 446 million EU citizens. Of course, the debates will take place, the ideas will be launched, the controversies will arise, but we will reach a general political document, which will in fact prepare the European developments for the next years. The European elections in 2024 can be an interesting milestone, a palpable horizon both for the current European elected officials, but also for the European administration in general.
We know European diversity! Countries and regions, political doctrines, personal charisms and decisions taken unanimously or not yet delight European communication. That's why I allow myself to advance an idea for the first time. The spine of the March 2022 report focuses on developing a concept that is already floating in European Brussels: the EU's open strategic autonomy.
The concept of Open Strategic Autonomy reflects the EU's desire to chart its own course on the global stage, shaping the world around us through leadership and engagement while preserving our interests and values. In essence, the EU will continue to work with partners to advance this positive agenda, but will work autonomously when it must.
Strategic autonomy is part of the agreed language of the EU since quite a long time ago. It was born in the field of defence industry and, for a long time, it was reduced to issues of defence and security. For quite a while, the debate was limited to a clash between those for whom strategic autonomy was a means of regaining political space vis-à-vis the United States, and others, most of the European states, for whom it had to be avoided precisely for fear of accelerating American disengagement. Strategic autonomy has been widened to new subjects of an economic and technological nature, as revealed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2020, ‘strategic autonomy’ has become one of the most utilised catchphrases in Brussels policy circles. EU officials have increasingly stressed the need of introducing strategies and measures to boost the EU's ‘strategic autonomy’ or ‘strategic sovereignty’ in a number of areas, spanning from defense to digital, from pharmaceutical to green.
There have been growing calls for Europe to pursue an agenda of ‘strategic autonomy’ on the global stage. The ambition, voiced by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the European Commission, is to bolster Europe’s geopolitical, technological and economic independence, in an increasingly unpredictable and multi-polar world.
Everything seems very interesting, constructive, evolving, and - what is even more important - does not upset anyone…
Dan LUCA / Brussels