I can't find a transcript of the whole speech, so I can only rely on what I read in media. For example, the journalist Dave Keating says:

President Emmanuel Macron is right now delivering a landmark speech in The Hague calling for a new era of “European sovereignty” - for Europe to end its decades-long dependence on the US.

“We want allies, but we want to be able to choose them.”

What kind of "decades-long dependence" are we talking about here? Is it about NATO? Trade?

If it's about trade, does it simply imply that he wants the EU to reduce its share of trade with the US? (thus increasing the share of trade with other countries, but which ones does he have in mind? China?).

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    It might be that he is intentionally ambiguous there. He probably didn't give a commentary on that, so answers might include a certain amount of speculation. The best would be to study the whole speech and possibly others and try to deduce something from the context, then take it with a grain of salt. Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 6:29
  • @Trilarion Exactly, my hope here is that someone has additional information and context.
    – J-J-J
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 6:32
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    He made a few more statements in interviews in the past two or three days calling for a more independent European foreign policy (following his visit to China).
    – Hulk
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 6:36
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    The full one-hour speech/event is posted here (and here) but I've not watched it (yet). Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 6:46
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    And probably that's hardly the most controversial thing he said in the past few days. The more contrversial parts were on the plane telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/04/10/… Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 7:39

2 Answers 2


Contra to the other answer, this speech was 99% about economic security. So while it's easy to project one's thoughts about other stuff like NATO [and things he said about Taiwan--on the plane] onto this speech, here's what he actually said in this speech, in my own summary since no transcript has surfaced. The time stamps are based on the France24 recording. I've only had the patience to summarize the first 40 minutes or so [the actual speech, but no the Q/A that followed]; the quote in question is around minute 24.

  • 05:00-06:00 Covid pandemic and Ukraine war accelerated European sovereignty
  • 06:00-07:00 sovereignty and identity are intertwined
  • 07:00-08:30 “Defending sovereignty doesn’t mean to shy away from allies [...] but we must strive to be rule makers than rule takers"
  • 08:30-09:00 During the pandemic we discovered we were dependent on a lot of devices [...] but that exporters of these put themselves first
  • 09:15 then Russia decided to weaponize energy
  • 09:40 EU was too much driven by a customer approach, we didn't ensure our economic security
  • 10:00 rejects protectionism but calls for a comprehensive economic security doctrine based on 5 pillars: first one is European integration and competitiveness
  • 13:00 makes a large parentheses on pension reform in France as being necessary for competitiveness
  • 14:30 more competitiveness requires more European integration, because China and the US have such levels thereof, internally
  • 16:00 complains that Europe has a lot of savings but not focused investments
  • 17:00 2nd pillar: need for industrial policies, which he says was taboo for a long time in the EU. Justifies this by saying that "our competitors are interfering in the market, [as a] matter of fact", illustrates with the "net zero" [eco] and chips industries.
  • 18:30 makes it more clear what he means: the US has an industrial policy, China has an industrial policy, so Europe must have one [too].
  • 19:00 rejects autarky, but calls for more autonomy or at least diversification of dependencies
  • 19:30 claims Europe managed to diversify away from Russian gas through "our market intervention"
  • 20:30 talks about [the need for] nuclear energy...
  • 21:30 as necessary for fixing climate change by producing rather than buying solutions
  • 22:30 want to become carbon neutral, but not with Chinese or American tech
  • 23:00 says the same applies to defense industries
  • 23:45 this is where he says "we want allies, we want good friends, we want partners, but we always want to be in a situation to choose them, not be dependent on them. And it's exactly the same on agriculture."
  • 24:00 speaks of the need to not import from countries with lower standards and the "the need to produce here with our rules".
  • 24:45: 3rd pillar: "protection of our interests" in strategic assets that could be put at risk. Block foreign investments/acquisitions in strategic companies. Hails this as a recent and complete "ideological change".
  • 26:00 decries selling some assets like energy companies and ports to "Chinese interests" in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis.
  • 26:15 talks about cybersecurity and the entitlement for a protection mechanism, and then about education and culture
  • 27:00 talks about free speech and "freedom of content", but with the downside of being exposed to propaganda "from outside", and to "algorithms decided elsewhere, and you put your people, your children, sometimes your democracy at risk". And so the need to "protect"/regulate social media content from "non-European private interests or non-European government interests".
  • 28:30 4th pillar: reciprocity -- calls for a more "transactional and mutually beneficial approach".
  • 29:15 exemplifies with reciprocity in public procurement
  • 30:00 speaks of the need for "fair trade" and reciprocity being a part of it.
  • 30:30 speaks of the need for sustainability to included in that (fair trade) concept
  • 30:45 "we should stop signing trade agreements with people who don't sign the Paris agreement and our biodiversity commitments [or else] you will help them not to respect what you believe in and you'll [also] kill your [own] industry".
  • 32:30 more generally, ask for mirror constraints in trade agreements on foreign produces, to match constraints on domestic ones.
  • 33:30 something about the importance of the WTO to "fix conflicts"
  • 36:00 he re-summarizes the pillars and says the 5th is cooperation, all of them forming a "new economic doctrine that will allows to reconcile creating jobs, financing our social model, dealing with climate change, and being more sovereign--deciding for ourselves. And this is critical in a time of war and when economy is being weaponized. Everything in our economy is going to be progressively part of national security."
  • 37:00 mentions a quote from Steiner (?) about Europe being made of cafés extending from Lisbon to Odessa, but then says that such establishments are closed when "people are bombed". Closes by saying something about dreams in cafés, but the need to be both a dreamer and realistic.

So, yeah, if I'm to summarize, he wants Europe/EU to more [assertive] and practically emulate the US and sometimes China on several levels/aspects, in order to compete with these two. But military alliances or [military] conflicts did not get mentioned that much in this speech. However, he does see the latter as lurking in the background of the economic decisions he deems necessary.

I suppose that what he didn't talk about, i.e. not even one mention of NATO in the entire 40-minutes speech, is perhaps relevant of his [EU-centric] worldview.

(Not much has been made of the quote from George Steiner in the press commentary on this speech, but looking that up, it continues with something less flattering "No early or defining cafés in Moscow, which is already a suburb of Asia. Very few in England after a brief fashion in the eighteenth century. None in North America outside the gallican outpost of New Orleans.")

  • cafe as in the place you get coffee?
    – Hatman
    Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 20:49
  • @Hatman: something like that. Although probably not quite Starbucks. Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 20:54
  • @Hatman Yes, the term Steiner used was "coffee houses".
    – Segorian
    Commented Apr 15, 2023 at 1:01
  • @Fizz Thanks! I had started taking notes for a similar answer, but you saved me the trouble.
    – Segorian
    Commented Apr 15, 2023 at 1:02

This is more about NATO and less about trade. The point is that European foreign policy has been trumped (pun intended) by the US's for decades. Usually when the US wants something, even if the EU disagrees, the US still gets what it wants. Two of the examples that immediately spring to mind are:

  • Trump pulling the US out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. This was an agreement brokered by several parties that was meant to stop Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons. Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the agreement and imposed sanctions, in spite of widespread condemnation from the rest of the world, most notably the EU. Yet the EU did not (or could not, depending on your interpretation) stop the US from withdrawing, and/or shield Iran from US sanctions.
  • In 2003, the US invaded Iraq. Opposition to the invasion was again widespread in the EU, and again the EU did not (or could not, depending on your interpretation) stop the invasion.

With the US looking like it might wage another ideological war against China in the future (it's arguably already happening), Macron wants the EU to follow its own independent foreign policy. If the US decides e.g. that China is an enemy, Macron wants the EU to still be able to call China an ally. He does not want to accept as an ally whoever the US decides should be an ally. In this, he wouldn't be the first French president to try - Charles de Gaulle tried as well, back in the 1960s.

Finally, Macron is realistic enough to know that France lacks the power to do so alone, but the EU potentially can if it acts in a unified manner, and therefore he seeks a unified EU policy (using "European sovereignty" instead of "French sovereignty").

Edit: You can read more about this from this source.

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    Another example is Europe lining up (if grudgingly in some cases - like Germany) to the US policy with respect to Russia, particularly in relation to Ukraine. Essentially, the US policy (long-term war, no negotiations, severing economic ties with Russia) is being framed as the only possible response, but it is obviously beneficial (financially and geopolitically) to the US at the detriment of the European interests. Macron taps into anti-American sentiment. He may also have a political goal of limiting US arms sales to Europe, where the US has snatched from France a few lucrative contracts.
    – Morisco
    Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 10:27
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    @RogerVadim there were negotiations. Russia basically said it would stop at nothing except total annihilation of the Ukrainian people and conquest of their land. What more do you want? Repeating the same action and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity. Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 14:33
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    @RogerVadim I would also like to know how Russia invading Europe is beneficial to European interests in any way whatsoever Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 14:34
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    @user253751 Yours are a kind of straw man statements, aimed more at discrediting any position that is different from yours, than having a serious discussion. This is exactly what Macron opposes.
    – Morisco
    Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 14:37
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    @RogerVadim there is no such thing as a straw man statement, only a straw man argument. No argument here, just a question: how is Russia invading Europe beneficial to European interests? Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 14:38

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