Europe, awakening of sovereignty

For Secretary of State Digital Cedrico and economists Elie Cohen and Sylvie Matery, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the pandemic have in a new sense highlight Europe’s awakening in the field of sovereignty.

Ukrainian war as an accelerator

Sylvie Matery: The war in Ukraine took the idea of ​​sovereignty one step further. But the revival was already underway. In 2016, Britain’s withdrawal from the EU and the election of Donald Trump in the United States brought the concept of strategic autonomy into the European text and began talking about defense. Later, with the Covid-19 pandemic, I realized that this sovereignty issue was much broader. On March 23, 2020, I remember the speech by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen calling on all European countries to implement foreign investment restrictions. This is surprising in a single market where one of the pillars is the free movement of capital.

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Elijah Cohen: Just before the pandemic, we celebrated interdependence, but we began to fear dependence. And see it as a source of vulnerability. Even before the war in Ukraine, the European Commission’s Thierry Breton, responsible for the domestic market, mobilized to scan all industrial sectors and identify points of health sovereignty vulnerabilities. The subject of sovereignty has long been the subject of ridicule in Brussels, which has become a sensitive subject. What has been theoretical for a long time is beginning to be transformed into reality.

Cedric O: The first opportunity was especially the Donald Trump election, which stated: “Syria is your neighborhood, not mine. »» This change in the range of American brothers’ shields changed the position of Germans who began to use words. “sovereignty”. The second factor is the delayed perception of the loss of economic, democratic and political sovereignty associated with the emergence of American and Chinese digital champions. The war in Ukraine creates acceleration and cooperation. I had a meeting with a European counterpart last week. You physically feel the fact that war is at the doorstep of Europe. You will always feel familiar with the eastern countries. We also have to see what this produces in dynamics with the United States: we are competing with them, but in the hearts of the eastern nations, the Russians are their gateway. It is the state of the United States that guarantees your safety the day you are in. This is why we are pushing for a European response. Otherwise, the war in Ukraine could lead to the “re-Atlanticization” of some of the countries of the European Union.

From sovereignty to “resilience”

CE We will touch on three main aspects of sovereignty. On the geopolitical side, we see a revolution in German Prime Minister Olaf Scholz that has changed in the weeks as the EU accepts the transfer of weapons to Ukraine and pledges to increase it. Defense spending. The second aspect is industrial sovereignty. In France, when talking about relocation, the answer is non-globalization, re-industrialization … but that doesn’t make much sense. No one dismantles a Moroccan factory and rebuilds it in France. The answer is the so-called “resilience” strategy. For each issue, we must first diversify our sources so that we do not rely too much on paracetamol for China and India and for electronic components in Taiwan. Next, you need to increase your inventory. And finally, relocate certain components of the value chain. This is where Europe has the tools for “Europe’s Common Interests and Important Projects”. [PIIEC]Battery, microprocessor, cloud hosting, hydrogen, mobility …

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CO If you think about regaining sovereignty without the necessary financial effort, you pay in words. It’s math. Europe has chosen to prioritize social systems over investment in industry and technology. Today, we spend more than 2.2% of GDP on R & D, with Koreans accounting for 5% and Germans aiming for 3.5%. Sovereignty is the point of arrival, not the point of departure.

Digital addiction challenge

CO My dream as a French and European minister is to bring out a cloud player as powerful as an American. However, their technical capabilities are superior to us. We are suffering. Tomorrow, they will ban large French companies from using American suppliers, they will answer me: “You are crazy. It will be a 10%, 15% or 20% loss of competitiveness.» » For vaccination campaigns, Doctolib wouldn’t have been able to deploy so quickly without Amazon to host the data. The solution only appears in the long run. We have to support the actor. And the technological revolutions continue so quickly with each other that you can skip steps and return. for example, Edge computing, This may be an opportunity, consisting of distributing the compute as close as possible to the application.

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SM In France, we often have a somewhat outdated vision of sovereignty. The rise of globalization and digital technology has passed since we considered ourselves sovereignty … In this respect, the PIIEC project in Europe is interesting. It’s probably the beginning of something that looks like an example of large-scale financial support in the United States. To a company like SpaceX, a space builder founded by Elon Musk by public order from the government.

“Regionalized” world

CE Prior to this crisis in Ukraine, the major problem in rebuilding the world economy was the Central American crisis. This leads to a rethinking of production chains and dependencies. This involves re-verticalization on a regional basis. Each region seeks to master important components. And maybe we will not go to the bipolar world technically and industrially, but to the tripolar world. Russia has also found that it is in the process of developing a vertical channel, both through an international boycott and aggressive steps to regain autonomy. For a very long time, we have taken the idea of ​​interdependence as a matter of course and as a major factor in our economic growth. But the news refocuses on Earth and draws two or even three big blocks.

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CO I’m optimistic. France has extraordinary assets. Its infrastructure, quality of life, quality of training. In digital technology, the quality of computer science and mathematics is extraordinary. But until now, we have exported a large amount of talent to France that was not as open-minded as the United States. It’s changing. Therefore, I am optimistic about the trade deficit. This is just the end of our industrial capacity. Now we are very far from arriving. We must continue our efforts.