This dual message – sovereignty is today no longer defined exclusively in military terms and can only be restored at the European level – was already a component of the interview with The Economist. The President again discussed this theme in Munich, in the great hall of the Bayerischer Hof, not without a certain amount of gallantry for the benefit of his audience: a gathering of the transatlantic relationship. Adept of a language of truth, he once again called on the European Union to get its act together on standards, technology, the environment, neighbourhood policy and so on, as much as in the military sphere itself. As was the case with The Economist, he questioned Europe’s policies of budgetary consolidation which result in American investments being financed by European savings.
To illustrate the diplomatic consequences of Europe's dependence on the United States, he stated: "if we have not built real financial, economic and military sovereignty, we cannot have a diplomacy of our own. We have experienced this on the JCPOA".
Partly to back up his wake-up call to Europe, but more surely because of his experience, Emmanuel Macron did not hesitate to once again insist on the threats hanging over our old continent. While the United States’ Secretary of State, Mr Pompeo, proclaimed that "the West is winning" against China, Russia and Iran, President Macron developed the theme of the "weakening of the West" in the face of China’s rising power, "regional powers that do not share our values but are in our neighbourhood" and not least because of "America's relative retreat". In this temple of the transatlantic community, the President insisted, with more forthrightness than in other speeches, on the divergences that may exist between American and European interests or even on different hierarchies of priorities: "Mediterranean policy and policy towards Russia must be European policies".
Taking this approach, defense issues are dealt with in a way that is relatively classic for a French Head of State but that has acquired a new resonance. The search for a European defense pillar, within NATO or as a complement to NATO, has been part of the French repertoire at least since Jacques Chirac. Certainly, the President can now showcase some advances – in fact rather fragile – such as a European Defence Fund or the European Intervention Initiative, and more recently Franco-German projects towards a joint ‘Future Combat Air System’ and the Main Ground Combat System, although these are struggling to take off. The real strength of Emmanuel Macron's reasoning probably lies elsewhere, in the evidence of American remoteness, which even the "big shots of Atlanticism" cannot deny, and perhaps also in his unprecedented ability to put the finger on the wound. In Munich, Emmanuel Macron made no secret of the many divisions that exist between Europeans and called on them to transcend the fear of the future that is currently yielding paralysis. He spoke frankly of a "dual unthinkable" of European defence balancing between a post-World War II Germany refusing to assume its power and Central Europeans obsessed with American protection. If there is a need for a European defence, he asserted, it is because Europeans need room for action and ought to respond to the US’ pressing demand for a stronger European defense effort.