20/12/2021

Geopolitics

Changing American Focus, can France turn this to its benefit?

The United States has been significantly changing its foreign policy focus from the Transatlantic region and from the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific region as a result of its increasing competition with China. This new international scenario can offer some opportunities for European allies, especially for France, but it can also pose several challenges that will need to be met. As a response to these opportunities and challenges, France led by President Emmanuel Macron has volunteered to lead Europe, in particular the European Union in an effort to fill in the gap left by Washington. The initiatives proposed are based on the creation of a European Strategic Autonomy, establishing a foreign policy and defence strategy with a European focus. France wants Europe’s defence to be built on several pillars: the EU, the NATO, and the multilateral cooperations. Despite Paris’s European ambition we also have to note, that France is trying to turn the changing American focus to its own national benefit.

Abstract:

The United States has been significantly changing its foreign policy focus
from the Transatlantic region and from the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific region as a
result of its increasing competition with China. This new international scenario can offer
some opportunities for European allies, especially for France, but it can also pose
several challenges that will need to be met. As a response to these opportunities and
challenges, France led by President Emmanuel Macron has volunteered to lead
Europe, in particular the European Union in an effort to fill in the gap left by
Washington. The initiatives proposed are based on the creation of a European
Strategic Autonomy, establishing a foreign policy and defence strategy with a
European focus. France wants Europe’s defence to be built on several pillars: the EU,
the NATO, and the multilateral cooperations. Despite Paris’s European ambition we
also have to note, that France is trying to turn the changing American focus to its own
national benefit.

Keywords: US strategic focus, European strategic autonomy, France, foreign policy,
defence policy

Is the US withdrawing from its traditional role as global policeman? What will
happen with Europe in a scenario where the rivalry with China is more important
for Washington than the cooperation with Europe? There is a country, France,
that is keen to lead the forming European Strategic Autonomy, however it is
questionable whether Paris’s European partners will accept this new role
President Emmanuel Macron is trying to assume for his country. France intends
to turn the absence of the US and the reluctance of Germany to its own benefit,
pursuing its national interests. This article aims at describing the new defence
frameworks initiated by France, and at showing in which regions can Paris
consolidate its influence. 


Introduction
Today, we can witness how the US’s international focus is changing, which triggers a
necessary change in Europe’s geopolitical position as well. On a European scene,
where the United Kingdom has left the integration and Germany is reluctant to assume
a political weight that could correspond to its economic influence, in 2017 a young and
ambitious French President was elected with a strong European focus. He however
follows on the Gaullist foreign policy tradition that seeks to use the EU’s credibility and
room of manoeuvre for furthering the French national interests. The launch of
Emmanuel Macron’s agenda in 2017 aiming at a sovereign Europe exercising a
greater strategic autonomy happened almost in parallel with the United States
changing its geopolitical focus from the Transatlantic to the Transpacific region. The
implications can and probably will affect European defence, the challenge which
President Macron is more than ready to respond to....

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