EWROPEJ: Europe needs to be strategically autonomous – Metsola 

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by Keith Zahra

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has strengthened Europe’s need to be “strategically autonomous”, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola told CD Pro in an exclusive interview in Strasbourg. 

Metsola also called on Europe to cut off its dependence on Russian energy, a key source of financing for the same invasion. 

This autonomy would include “defence capabilities” and “a proper defence Union”, Metsola said, referring to the reality highlighted by events in Afghanistan last year, which show that Europe can no longer depend solely on US support. 

Recent US governments have tended to disengage from large-scale military operations in Africa and the Middle East, thus leaving Europe alone to deal with crisis situations and conflict resolution in the European neighbourhood. 

The world’s geo-political realities have changed, she added, particularly with the emergence of China as another global force. Surveys carried out in the aftermath of the invasion in Finland and Sweden – two traditionally neutral countries – have shown that more than 50% of Finns and Swedes now support joining NATO. 

The concept of strategic autonomy has gained ground in the late 2010s, after the French President, Emmanuel Macron, called for a conscious ‘European sovereignty’ and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said that Europe would have to take its destiny into its own hands, as it could no longer necessarily rely on the United States for protection. 

The EP President also re-iterated her belief that the EU should move towards a ‘zero gas’ policy, which was an essential tool to stop Russia in its tracks, adding that the continued use of Russian energy sources meant that Europeans were actually financing the war. 

“We have to see that we have enough gas to survive in the short-term. But then we need to plan for the longer-term, by identifying different sources of gas, which allow us to cut off dependency from Russia completely. This includes securing hydrogen gas from the Mediterranean or even from the United States”. 

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-media house initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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