Europe can be ‘power broker’ between US and China, Macron says

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during the plenary session of the Paris Peace Forum, in Paris, France, 12 November 2019. [EPA-EFE/LUDOVIC MARIN]

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday (12 November) that Europe can be a “power broker” between the United States and China, as the two countries continue to quarrel over the details of a future deal aimed to end the current trade impasse.

Speaking at the opening of the Paris Peace Forum, Macron said that amid an “unprecedented crisis” in global economic systems, Europe must remain “sovereign” and could act as a mediator between the world’s two strongest economic powers, the US and China. Europe may be able to provide a “third voice to help find useful solutions,” he said.

The French president also noted his regret at US President Trump’s absence from the forum, saying he wants “the US to be more involved” as part of the next edition of the conference. China was represented on Tuesday with Vice President Wang Qishan and Macron highlighted the country as an “important component of global stability.”

Trade deal trade-off

More broadly, Chinese and US authorities continue to jockey for influence amid the ongoing trade negotiations between the two. Last week, Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said the tariff hike imposed by both administrations on the export of each other’s goods would be decreased incrementally.

Trump, however, told journalists on Friday that the Chinese had been rallying for a “rollback” on the tariffs, but that he had not signed off on anything himself.

America’s relationship with China is set to be an important issue for Trump in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. Any future deal between the US and China, Trump believes, will primarily be to the benefit of American citizens. He said at the end of  October that ‘phase one’ of the China deal would be signed soon.

Multilateralism against nationalism  

Speaking more generally on Tuesday, Macron stressed the importance of multilateralism solutions to the modern world’s many challenges.

Those, he said, include dealing with increased migration flows, challenges related to digitalisation and climate change. He also hit out at the rising tides of nationalism worldwide, saying that such ideologies ultimately result in a lack of cooperation between global powers and “lead to war.”

Macon also hit out at critics of his recent comments on NATO experiencing a form of “brain death”, following a lack of US engagement as part of the alliance. Macron said on Tuesday that it is a “risk” not to question the efficacy of institutions.

Tuesday’s Paris Peace Forum was held at La Villette venue in the city, bringing together an international contingency of political leaders, as well as industry heads and representatives from civil society.

However, reports suggest that only 27 heads of state were invited this time around  – a significant markdown compared to last year, when, on the centenary of the end of World War One, 65 national heads attended.

The French president’s speech was preceded by addresses from China’ Qishan, Félix Tshisekedi, president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the President-elect of the next European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

For her part, von der Leyen stressed the importance of Europe exercising its interests in securing peace beyond its own borders, saying that countries worldwide need to work together to “develop a common strategic culture.”

She also reaffirmed the previous Commission intentions to increase the bloc’s budget for external action by 30% for the 202-2027 period. The previous outlay covering 2014 to 2020 had been set at €94.5 billion, which von der Leyen would like to see increased to €123 billion, with an emphasis on development projects in Africa and Asia in particular.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]


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