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Afghan crisis shows EU needs more 'autonomy'

September 1, 2021

Charles Michel has said that the EU needs to be able to make more decisions on its own following the Afghanistan crisis and chaotic attempts to evacuate people from Kabul.

Afghans disembark from a Bundeswehr flight out of Kabul
Several EU member states were involved in the scramble to evacuate citizens and local Afghan supporters from KabulImage: Marc Tessensohn/Bundeswehr/dpa/picture alliance

EU Council President Charles Michel said on Wednesday that the European Union needs to pursue decision-making autonomy in the wake of the chaotic evacuations from Afghanistan that ended last week.

"In my view, we do not need another such geopolitical event to grasp that the EU must strive for greater decision-making autonomy and greater capacity for action in the world," he told the Bled Strategic Forum in Slovenia.

Influence is EU's 'greatest challenge'

Looking to the future of the EU's role in the world, the EU Council president discussed the importance of maintaining the bloc's influence in an interdependent world.

"European influence will be our greatest challenge in the coming years, and Afghanistan has offered a stark demonstration," he said.

However, he added that while interdependence is a good thing, dependence is not and thus it is important for the EU to be able to secure its own interests.

"We must reflect openly and clear-eyed on a new stage in collective security and defense capabilities, especially in the wake of the Afghan crisis." Michel added.

EU needs a 'strong and common voice'

European Parliament President David Sassoli echoed Michel's words, calling for a "strong and common European voice on the international stage" to pursue the bloc's interests.

"This goes hand in hand with the need to move forward together toward a true common security and defense policy, without which we will remain dependent on the goodwill of other great powers and expose ourselves to the threats of authoritarian regimes," Sassoli said at the same Bled conference.

However, he also chided EU member states that had not come forward to accept Afghan refugees, in contrast to several states outside the EU.

"Everyone rightly thought of those who worked with us and their families, but none had the courage to offer refuge to those whose lives are still in danger today. We cannot pretend that the Afghan question does not concern us, because we participated in that mission and shared its objectives and aim," the parliament president said.

ab/sms (Reuters, EFE)