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European Strategic Complacency Is Not an Option

It is now more clear than ever that Europe must take its security, broadly understood, into its own hands. Doing so will not only secure the European Union's proper place on the world stage, but will also ensure a healthy transatlantic partnership in the years ahead.

BRUSSELS – Joe Biden’s election as the next president of the United States has raised hopes in Europe of putting the transatlantic relationship back on track. But there can be no simple return to the past. Facing so many domestic and international challenges, the US will value the transatlantic relationship only insofar as that relationship delivers actual value. A stronger Europe that shoulders a greater share of global responsibilities can ensure that it does.

There has been much talk of achieving “European strategic autonomy,” but what does that mean in practice? Autonomy should not imply total independence or isolation from the rest of the world. Rather, it refers to an ability to think for oneself and to act according to one’s own values and interests. The European Union needs to achieve this kind of autonomy, while at the same time strengthening our alliances and preserving our commitments to multilateralism and openness.

The EU is facing serious strategic challenges in today’s antagonistic international environment, where geopolitical rivalries and great-power competition are on the rise. That is why, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel once bluntly put it, “We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands.” We must stand on our own feet.

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