And that’s where another known unknown lies. An avant-garde action by France, Germany and the Commission makes sense, but it begs reaching out immediately to other member states – and probably also to the UK as soon as possible. EU member states hate nothing more than being the periphery to a Franco-German axis. For the time being, what we see is a new start that breaks, in form and substance, with the tradition of EU-China relations.
Finally, how will Mr. Xi move? China’s recent focus has been on the United States, and on containing damage as well as concessions inside the trade relationship while gaining ground on strategic issues. Visits to Portugal, Italy or Monaco were never going to change that. But Mr. Xi has shown a lifetime of talent in adapting to circumstances. In normal times, punishing France, ignoring the EU and rewarding Germany would be par for the course. But these are not normal times. Mr. Xi will likely pause and size up the claimed coherence of his European partner. The Commission’s turn to self-reliant policy prescriptions, and Mr. Macron’s courage in actually practicing the European course that he espouses, are the right moves. They will now require tenacity, salesmanship and support.
Copyright : Tiziana FABI / POOL / AFP