The EU must work together “at eye level” with countries in Asia, Africa and South America

Chancellor Olaf Scholz addresses the European Parliament.ANP/EPA image

Scholz spoke there on the occasion of Europe Day, the day on May 9, 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman revealed his plans for the European Coal and Steel Community, the predecessor to the European Union. On the same day, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, paid a symbolic visit to Kiev.

Schulz’s speech was heralded as a “fundamental” speech on Europe, as French President Macron likes to give it. Contrary to Macron’s high expectations, Scholz put humility above all else. Macron wants Europe to become “strategically independent” to form a “third pole” in a tripolar world, a global power alongside the United States and China.

On the other hand, Olaf Scholz made Europe small. He also cited the French writer Paul Valéry: “Will Europe become what it really is: a small bump, a cape of the Asian mainland”.

Only 5 percent of humanity lives in Europe, Schultz says, while Asia, Africa and South America are gaining weight. Schulze says emerging countries in other parts of the world will not accept a bipolar or tripolar world. “That is why I firmly believe that the 21st century world will be multipolar – it already has been.”

Free trade agreements

Europe is vulnerable because it is relatively poor in raw materials and highly dependent on world trade. This is why Europe must work “at eye level” with countries in Asia, Africa and South America, according to Schultz. “It makes sense to sign new free trade agreements – with the Mercosur countries in South America, with Mexico, with India, with Indonesia, with Australia, Kenya and many other countries,” said Schulz. This is how Europe treats its colonial legacy.

In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult to conclude such agreements. They faced criticism not only from the nationalist right, but also from the left, who felt that environmental and animal rights were not adequately protected. Dealing with the Mercosur countries has become easier because Brazil’s far-right President Bolsonaro has lost the election.

Keep the line open with China

According to Schulz, such treaties are indispensable, especially since Europe wants to become less dependent on China. The chancellor said that by concluding free trade agreements with other countries, Europe could diversify its supply lines

Schulz also wanted to keep the line open with China. Like Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, he is not in favor of decoupling the Chinese and European economies, but in favor of reducing excessive dependence on China.

In Schulz’s multipolar world, one pole remains particularly important: the United States. Scholz has distanced himself from French President Macron, who recently said in a controversial interview that Europe should not be “subordinate” to the United States. The French president has come under fire for distancing himself from an ally on whom Europe relies heavily militarily. Schulz placed himself squarely behind America: “The United States remains Europe’s most important ally.”

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