Macron’s ‘Strategic Autonomy’ Push Is Like Europe ‘Shooting Into Our Own Knee,’ Polish PM Says


Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron at a European meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, last October. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

( – Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Thursday that European “strategic autonomy” – the concept being championed by French President Emmanuel Macron – amounts to Europe “shooting into our own knee,” pivoting towards China and away from the United States.

“I do not quite understand the concept of ‘strategic autonomy’ if it means de facto shooting into our own knee,” Morawiecki told an audience at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

Some European countries were trying to make the same mistake with China and they made with Russia when they made themselves dependent on Russian gas and other resources, he said.

“European autonomy sounds fancy, doesn’t it? But it means shifting the center of European gravity towards China and severing the ties with U.S.”


Morawiecki did not mention Macron by name – and when the event moderator did, he grimaced and asked, “do I have to comment?” drawing laughter from the audience. But he did refer to European leaders paying recent visits to Beijing and opined that “the wake-up call with regard to China is very soft, very weak in Europe.”

“Shortsightedly, they look to China, to be able to sell more E.U. products there, at huge geopolitical cost, making us more dependent on China and not less.”

At the end of a recent visit to China, Macron made waves with calls for Europe – in exercising the “strategic autonomy” that he has been promoting for several years – to avoid being caught up in a potential U.S.-China conflict over Taiwan, saying Europeans were at risk of being drawn into “crises that are not ours.”

Leading Republicans slammed the comments, which came at a time of stepped up U.S.-China tensions over the island democracy. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) suggested that, if Macron was speaking for Europe, perhaps the U.S. should let Europe deal with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on its own while the U.S. focuses on Taiwan and China.

Morawiecki was not alone in making clear that Macron was not speaking for his country. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis on Wednesday stressed the importance of transatlantic unity and of supporting democratic Taiwan.

On the other hand, European Council president Charles Michel told a French television program that a number of E.U. leaders would agree with Macron on the issue of “strategic autonomy.” Michel said the E.U.-U.S. alliance should not presuppose “that we blindly, systematically follow the position of the United States on all issues.”

Ukraine-Taiwan link

In his remarks in Washington on Thursday, Morawiecki drew a link between the security situations in Europe and East Asia, saying that should Russia succeed in defeating Ukraine, China could invade Taiwan. 

“You cannot protect Ukraine today and tomorrow be saying Taiwan is not your business,” he said, in another possible allusion to Macron’s position.

“I think that, God forbid, if Ukraine falls, if Ukraine gets conquered, the next day China may attack – can attack Taiwan,” Morawiecki said. “I see lots of connectivity, lots of interdependencies between the situation in Ukraine and the situation in China – in Taiwan and China.”

Together with its Baltic state neighbors and others in eastern Europe that were under Moscow’s sway during the Cold War, Poland is a strong supporter of Ukraine in the face of Russia’s aggression.

Morawiecki said when it comes to determination to help Ukraine the West was roughly divided into three camps – the English-speaking democracies; the central and eastern European democracies (with Russia-leaning Hungary the exception); and Western European democracies led by France and Germany.

“What [Russian President Vladimir] Putin calls the ‘collective West’ all want Ukraine to win, but not necessarily to the same extent.”

He said there were “politicians in Western Europe who want a ceasefire at any price, the sooner the better, as quickly as possible.”

In response to a question of France and Germany in particular, Morawiecki said he has no doubt that they want Ukraine to win, “but to what extent they want to have this victory of Ukraine, and to what extent they are able to engage their money, their weapons, their diplomacy to support Ukraine, I’m not so sure.”

“They are our friends and partners,” he said of France and Germany, “but we would wish them to be more involved in this war in Ukraine, in terms of supporting – really and deeply, wholeheartedly, supporting Ukraine.”

Morawiecki underlined the importance of the relationship between Poland and the United States, which he called “Poland’s indispensable partner.”

“Poland needs the U.S., but the U.S. needs firm European allies that actually care about transatlantic cooperation,” he said. “Poland is one of very few states which are equally pro-American and pro-European. We are an ideal keystone binding transatlantic relations.”

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