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defense union, climate, chip shortage


European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen addresses European lawmakers on the inauguration of the new President of the United States.

FRANCISCO SECO | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — There is a new international order, where competition is fierce and some nations “stop at nothing to gain influence,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday.

Speaking at her annual “State of the European Union” parliamentary address, von der Leyen described the currrent environment of foreign relations as “a new era of hyper-competitiveness.”

“An era of regional rivalries and major powers refocusing their attention towards each other,” she said, while adding that “recent events in Afghanistan are not the cause of this change — but they are a symptom of it.”

The withdrawal of American and allied troops from Afghanistan fueled a much faster-than-expected takeover of the country by the Taliban. The whole process and subsequent evacuation efforts have raised concerns in the EU about its dependence on the United States in terms of defense and security.

Europe can — and clearly should — be able and willing to do more on its own.

Ursula von der Leyen

European Commission President

As such, some EU leaders have resurfaced the concept of a strategic autonomy — the idea that the bloc needs to develop its own defense capabilities — and a topic that von der Leyen is keen to pursue.

“Witnessing events unfold in Afghanistan was profoundly painful for all the families of fallen servicemen and servicewomen,” von der Leyen said Wednesday.

“Europe can — and clearly should — be able and willing to do more on its own … What we need is the European Defense Union,” she said.

The topic is likely to be in focus in the first half of 2022, when France, a keen supporter of the idea, is in charge of leading the discussions at the EU-level.

The EU’s economics chief, Paolo Gentiloni, told CNBC earlier this month that the bloc should step up its role on the geopolitical stage as the U.S. and other Western allies take a step back.

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2021-09-15 06:32:04

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