Prime Minister Alexander de Crowe supports the need for strategic autonomy for Europe, but cautions that it should not be dependent on the big countries.
Belgium fully supports Europe’s “strategic resilience” project, so that our continent has a vital capacity for energy, defense and vital economic sectors in the future.
During his visit to French President Emmanuel Macron in December last year, Prime Minister Alexandre de Crewe (Open VLD) had already endorsed the idea of strategic autonomy that also supports the European Commission’s new industrial strategy (DS 5 mei). Belgium is a small and open economy, recognized internationally as a promoter of trade, but within government and diplomacy, the perception grew that achieving a level playing field – with China in particular – had failed. The question immediately arises about Europe’s global dependence on a number of important raw materials or products. The Belgian government supports the ambition to achieve more self-sufficiency in this regard.
Youngsters pushed away?
But Belgium’s position is twofold. Because the philosophy of strategic independence threatens at worst to boil down to the development of national industries in big countries like Germany, France and Italy – countries that, not coincidentally, are more protective of the protective card. The fear is that the “juniors” will be pushed out in this way in the new geopolitical bidding process.
De Croo is concerned that this will lead to new dysfunctions within Europe, explains his spokesperson, Tom Meulenbergs. “So we are close to countries like the Netherlands, Austria and Denmark that share the same concerns.” The de Crow government is already reforming the dual interpretation of the conflict between large and small states.
Belgium’s dual position reflects our reputation as a bridge builder, but it also reflects the makeup of the alliance. On the French-speaking side, the Socialist Party in particular showed a more protectionist voice in the past, most recently over the Mercosur trade agreement.
Also within the framework of industrial strategy for Europe, the desire for more direct government aid may differ among government partners. The debate about this has yet to start within the government.