Charles Michel insists on EU strategic autonomy after chaotic Afghanistan evacuations

The chaotic evacuation effort in Afghanistan has stressed the urgency for European strategic autonomy, European Council President Charles Michel said in a lengthy interview with Paris-based think tank Groupe d’études géopolitiques on Wednesday.  

Michel shared his concern over the EU’s inability to provide “the necessary assistance to evacuate its citizens and the Afghans who supported them” without American help.

“More European strategic autonomy is not only good for Europe but also for the rest of the world, because the values we uphold are the universal values of dignity and human rights,” he argued.

Michel said the tragic situation in Afghanistan “must prompt us Europeans to look in the mirror and ask ourselves: ‘How can we have more influence in the geopolitical sphere in the future than we do today?’”

The call for independence comes alongside mounting frustrations with the U.S.

Michel noted that while most European countries supported the U.S. after September 11 — when Article 5 of the NATO treaty was invoked for the first time — the Trump and Biden administrations made “very few, if any, consultations with their European partners” when the U.S. first engaged with the Taliban last year or announced their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

It’s not all bad blood between the allies, however, and Michel underscored U.S. President Joe Biden’s commitment. “I found him to be very engaged and sincere,” said Michel. “His political record attests to this. This is very different from the Trump administration, which had a binary and simplistic world view: ‘I’m strong, you’re weak. And if you’re strong, then I’m weak.’”

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