France's Plea for an Independent Europe: Ambassador Gilles Pécout for Strategic and Global Sovereignty of the EU

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: October 16, 2023; 14:12 ♦ (Vindobona)

In an interview with the "Kronen Zeitung", the French ambassador in Vienna, Gilles Pécout, promoted the strategic and global sovereignty of the EU. He stressed that the EU is an ally of the USA, but not China's enemy.

On the 6th anniversary of the Sorbonne Keynote Address, the French Ambassador to Austria, Gilles Pécout, recalled France's positions on Europe's strategic autonomy and integration. / Picture: © / Peter Lechner / HBF and Lukas Hardt-Stremayr

The interview in the "Kronen Zeitung" with Clemens Zavarsky coincided with the sixth anniversary of Emmanuel Macron's Sorbonne speech, in which the French president launched the EU's Future Conference. Pécout, who was rector of the Sorbonne at the time, recalled that Macron's desire at the time was to talk specifically to young people about Europe.

When it came to progress since Macron's speech, Pécout pointed to several successes: The EU's Strategic Compass on defense, progress in economic sovereignty, the Green Deal, and gender equality measures. In addition, he stressed that student exchanges and European university alliances would help combat prejudice and aggressive nationalism.

Asked about the EU's geopolitical relations, Pécout stressed the importance of a multilateral system of international relations. He clarified that although Europe is allied with the U.S., China should not be seen as an enemy but as a strong competitor.

The issue of EU enlargement, particularly about the Western Balkans, was also part of the conversation. Pécout emphasized that President Macron has worked in the past toward comprehensive integration of both the Western Balkans and Ukraine and Moldova.

Regarding relations with Africa, the ambassador stressed the need for cooperation that is in the mutual interest. France, he said, has allocated significant resources to support Africa in recent years.

Concluding the interview, Pécout warned against the dangers of rising nationalism and stressed the social component of the European project as crucial in the fight against these developments.

In a subsequent statement, the ambassador thanked the Kronen Zeitung for the opportunity to discuss French positions in Europe in light of Macron's Sorbonne keynote speech.

French Embassy Vienna