Speaking at the Bled Strategic Forum in Slovenia on Wednesday, Michel said that asserting European influence will be the “greatest challenge” for the bloc in the coming years, with the recently concluded two-decade war in Afghanistan serving as a “stark demonstration” of why Brussels must rethink how it conducts foreign policy.
EU states were largely reliant on the US military to keep Kabul’s airport operational as Washington’s allies scrambled to evacuate people from Afghanistan. The US fully withdrew from the country on Monday, ending the nearly twenty-year conflict. More than 1,100 allied service members, including those from EU states, lost their lives in the war.
Brussels has previously signaled its desire to carve out a defense strategy separate from Washington’s own foreign policy. In 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron argued that the bloc needed a “true European army” so that it could better defend itself “alone” if need be.
More recently, in May of this year, France’s chief of the defense staff, Army General Francois Lecointre, argued that the EU must work towards “meeting the security expectations of her citizens” and avoid getting entangled in a potential conflict between the United States and China.
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