The EU Looks Doomed to Repeat its Russia “De-Risking” Strategy with China

Despite French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent statements that Europe not be a US vassal, the EU continues to follow Washington down the path of confrontation with China.

EU foreign ministers met on Friday and backed a more hardline position on China; now they just need to to figure out how to put it into practice, foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. The ministers agreed that coordination with the United States will “remain essential” as they work to, as President Ursula von der Leyen put it recently, “de-risk” from China.

Well now it looks like those efforts are starting to get mighty risky as the European Commission is also discussing slapping sanctions on eight Chinese companies Brussels accuses of aiding the Russian war effort by sending dual-use goods like microchips to Moscow. There’s also talk of introducing a new mechanism that would restrict EU exports to countries that flout sanctions (a final decision isn’t expected until later this month or potentially June).

Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang happened to be in Berlin when news broke of the potential sanctions, which led to the second war-of-words appearance in a month of him and his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock who continues to do her best to damage ties between Berlin and its largest trading partner.

While Qin stressed China’s neutrality and its efforts to formulate a peace plan, Baerbock insisted neutrality is not an option. “Neutrality means taking the side of the aggressor,” she told Qin while also labeling China a “systemic rival.” Qin assured his counterpart that Beijing would retaliate if the EU moves forward with its plans to sanction the Chinese companies. Beijing has a wide range of options at its disposal to hit back at the EU, as Reuters notes:

Beijing has plenty of leverage. At $5 trillion in 2021, China’s manufacturing value-added is roughly equal to the United States and Europe combined. It cranks out critical industrial widgets including mid-range chips, makes most of the world’s active pharmaceutical ingredients, and hosts global competitors in high-speed rail and clean energy, including nuclear. It is the leading miner and processor of rare earths, which are used in everything from batteries to guided missiles; last year it manufactured over 90% of the world’s solar power wafers.

At the same time, Beijing is still dreaming that somehow wiser minds prevail and the EU will free itself from the US’ grasp. China is hoping that France and Germany can get on the same page and create some sort of European strategic autonomy. We’ll see what Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz come out with after a scheduled meeting in July. It’s doubtful they’ll muster enough mettle to stop the wheels in motion. Scholz, after all, doesn’t seem to be running much of the show in Germany. For whatever reason, he cedes those duties to his Green partners in government, Baerbock and economic minister Robert Habeck – who are like German versions of US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

China will likely continue to go soft on any response measures while holding out hope that Europe can be peeled away from the US. From the South China Morning Post:

Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang has warned that the real “risk” Europe faces comes from “a certain country” that is waging a “new cold war”, imposing unilateral sanctions and exporting its own financial problems to others.

Qin did not mention the US by name, but accused the country in question of fomenting ideological confrontation and engaging in camp confrontation, when asked about the EU’s “de-risking” strategy…

Qin said he appreciated the stance of Berlin and Brussels, but raised Beijing’s concerns that the strategy could become a “de-sinicisation” of the continent that would cut opportunities, cooperation, stability and development.

Indeed, that is what is slowly happening. While the EU plays with semantics (de-risk vs. decouple) the playbook is eerily similar to the one the EU followed with Moscow. With Russia it was the stated fear of energy reliance; with China officials like Baerbock and von der Leyen claim Europe is too dependent tradewise.

Fair enough, but do they have any plans for self-dependence beyond magical thinking? Similar to the Russia escapade, the line of thinking seems to be to do what the Americans say and figure it out on the fly. That usually doesn’t work out well:

Prior to her humiliating trip to China, von der Leyen elaborated on her China “de-risking” strategy in March in a speech on EU-China relations at the Mercator Institute for China Studies and the European Policy Centre. Some excerpts on Europe’s plans:

The starting point for this is having a clear-eyed picture on what the risks are. That means recognising how China’s economic and security ambitions have shifted. But it also means taking a critical look at our own resilience and dependencies, in particular within our industrial and defence base. This can only be based on stress-testing our relationship to see where the greatest threats lie concerning our resilience, long-term prosperity and security. This will allow us to develop our economic de-risking strategy across four pillars. The first one is: making our own economy and industry more competitive and resilient.

Von der Leyen proceeds to tout the bloc’s Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA), which aims for the EU to process 40 percent of the strategic raw materials it uses by 2030. The NZIA would allow projects to bypass many environmental and social impact reviews. But the proposals do not earmark any new money, and the policies do nothing to change Europe’s disadvantages, which include a lack of subsidies compared to the US and China and much higher energy costs thanks to their “de-risking” away from Russian energy. More from von der Leyen:

We know this is an area where we rely on one single supplier – China – for 98% of our rare earth supply, 93% of our magnesium and 97% of our lithium – just to name a few…This is why we have put forward the Critical Raw Materials Act to help diversify and secure our supply.

The Critical Raw Materials Act would allow the EU to label some projects as “strategic” and fast-track the permitting process so that processing facilities could be granted approval in less than 12 months, and mines could theoretically be operational within 24 months (compared to an average of 10 years today).

Von der Leyen goes on to say that the EU will consider restrictions on outbound investment to China and that a major part of the de-risking strategy is alignment with partners, i.e., the US. She also promoted the bloc’s Anti-Coercion Instrument (ACI), which aims to take countermeasures against outside countries that attempt to pressure bloc states using the member states’ economic dependencies. The ACI allows the EU to retaliate with import tariffs, trade restrictions, or public procurement measures.

In the winter of 2021, China enacted trade sanctions against Lithuania after the latter allowed a de facto Taiwanese embassy to open up shop in Vilnius. There is a possibility the EU could start using the ACI right out of the gate in response to the China-Lithuania spat. From Euractiv:

Lithuania, therefore, was a strong supporter of the new instrument. Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis called it a tool “to stop dictators bullying the EU with unofficial sanctions” in a tweet celebrating the agreement between member states and the Parliament. “The EU just got stronger,” he said.

However, it is unclear whether the instrument will be used against China for its coercion attempts against Lithuania. An EU official showed himself rather reticent about the idea of opening negotiations on cases in the past, while the European Parliament’s Bernd Lange argued that it should also be applied to this case.

Lange has said that “sometimes you have to put a gun on the table, even when you know that you might not use it.” In response to the very limited economic fallout in Lithuania due to the Chinese sanctions, the European Commission provided low-cost loans to affected businesses, and the US Export-Import Bank threw in a $600 million export credit agreement.

If this is sounding familiar for Europe, that’s because it’s following the same blueprint it did with Russia. European officials repeatedly claim they learned from the error of their ways in importing cheap Russian gas and promise they won’t make the same mistake with products from China. Should they have learned another lesson?

The problem (again) for the EU is that its roadmap to reduce reliance on products from China will take years and is filled with question marks, but if Europe continues to damage ties at the current rate, it runs the risk of derailing its green transition efforts while further wrecking its economies.

At his meeting with Baerbock, Qin acknowledged that China would be hurt by a “new Cold War” but noted Europe would suffer more. He mentioned a recent report from the Austrian Institute of Economic Research and the Foundation for Family Businesses, which estimates that Germany’s GDP would drop two percent if it “de-risks” from China. And it’s obviously not just Germany. Agathe Demarais, global forecasting director at the Economist Intelligence Unit, outlines some of the other negatives for the EU as a whole:

The EU would lose its biggest trading partner for goods. The consequences of this would be dire for European export-oriented firms, as China is their third largest export market. Losing access to a market of 1.4 billion consumers is simply not an option for many European businesses.

Goods shortages would become commonplace in Europe, as EU imports from China are twice the size of those from the US (the EU’s second-largest source of imports). The competitiveness of European firms is too low to replace all imports from China, notably for basic manufactured staples. As such, decoupling from China would weigh on growth and fuel consumer inflation.

Besides, a European decoupling from China would probably provoke Chinese retaliation. Beijing has an ace up its sleeve with rare earths. China controls the vast majority of known rare-earths deposits. It could curb the access of European firms to these crucial raw materials. Without them, the development of electrical vehicles, military gear, and semiconductors would stall in Europe.

Nonetheless, Berlin continues to do its best to wreck ties between the two countries. Germany’s education minister, Bettina Stark-Watzinger, visited Taiwan in March – the highest-level visit by a German official in 26 years. That provocative move upset Beijing, which just postponed on short notice a meeting between the Chinese and German finance ministers.

Additionally, there were recent reports that Germany is planning to ban the export to China of chemicals used to manufacture semiconductors (Berlin denies this). Germany is also working on its “China Strategy,” which is being steered by Baerbock and is expected to formalize a much more hawkish stance against Beijing when it’s released in the coming months. This is the same Germany that said no thanks to Russian gas and just shut down its remaining nuclear power plants.

While Europe struggles to deal with the loss of Russian energy, the EU Commission and Germany seem determined to make matters worse for the people of Europe. Germany is leading calls for EU nations to begin major deficit reduction efforts while countries are also expected to start ponying up more for the Ukraine war effort. From Thomas Fazi at Unherd:

The European Commission announced its billion-euro plan to increase Europe’s capacity for producing ammunition to send to Ukraine, for which member states will have to contribute up to a billion euros — yet another step in Europe’s “switch to war economy mode”, as commissioner Thierry Breton put it. In other words, European countries will soon be required to cut back on social welfare and crucial investment in non-defence-related areas in order to finance the EU’s new defence economy — we might call this military austerity — in the context of the bloc’s increasingly vassal-like subordination to US foreign policy.

All of which points to the inevitability of Germany’s return as the EU’s “economic policeman”. For the past year, the country has been trying to redefine its role in light of the massive tectonic shifts brought about the war in Ukraine — especially Europe’s geopolitical pivot from the West to the East. Perhaps it has finally found one: in the form of a renewed “special relationship” with the US as its primary Western European proxy, particularly when it comes to foreign policy. As Wolfgang Streeck has argued, this would entail re-establishing a position of economic leadership within the EU, on the provision of managing it on Washington’s behalf and of “tak[ing] responsibility for organising and, importantly, financing the European contribution to the war”.


How about the second and third largest economies in the EU, France and Italy? Are they on board with the Baerbock and von der Leyen China hawks?

While Macron seemingly had a change of heart while on his April trip to Beijing, it’d be nice to see some action from the Elysee before declaring him another de Gaulle. Let’s remember that ahead of Macron’s trip to Washington last year the French were offering to help convince European recalcitrants to get tougher with China – as long as the US threw the EU a bone on the Inflation Reduction Act. Well, the US has continued to ignore French and European pleas, offering only a mostly meaningless concession in March.

Italy, the only G7 nation to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), appears unlikely to renew the deal when it expires early next year. Despite all the hyperventilating over Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s election last year, she has proven herself to be a dutiful subject. As Reuters points out:

Meloni met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bali last November and accepted an invitation to visit China, but a date has not yet been fixed.

Meloni has also not yet visited Washington and the government official said she did not want to travel to Beijing without having first been received by U.S. President Joe Biden.

Europe made its vassal status all but clear late last year when the Dutch came under heavy US pressure over ASML, which dominates the market for deep ultraviolet lithography machines used in chip making.

Washington wanted the Netherlands to forbid the company from selling Beijing equipment used in making the most advanced chips. The Dutch foreign trade minister initially stressed that “the Netherlands will not copy the American measures one-to-one. We make our assessment — and we do this in consultation with partner countries.”

It was a major decision for the Dutch and Europe as a whole as Michele Geraci, former undersecretary of state at the Italian Ministry of Economic Development said:

If they continue to do business with China, they will flourish, they will reinvest the money, and they will continue to advance in development. And Europe will retain a very strong presence in the semiconductor industry, which is the industry of the future. If they stop selling microprocessor machinery to China, China will make them by themselves, maybe not today, maybe not next year, but in 2 or 3 years’ time. And ASML will lose its competitive strength and Europe will also lose one of the great companies that they have in this sector.

So what’s the best choice? They need to manage the pressure from the US because it’s a very important decision between short term and long term. If the Netherlands government chooses to listen to the US, they will destroy their long-term future in exchange for some short-term gains. And in exchange, China will lose in the short term, because China will suffer a little bit, but in the long term will win.

Well, about a month after the Dutch foreign trade minister talked tough, the Netherlands caved and joined the US efforts.

While Europe became convinced of the China threat relatively recently and wants to remedy the issue overnight, China has been following a long-term strategy of reducing its dependence on foreign technology and capabilities for more than 15 years and has projected that strategy forward another 15 years. The results of those efforts from the Harvard Business Review:

China has done more than just leverage its size and abundant low-skilled labor. It has also invested heavily in education to expand its skilled talent pool, increasing the number of college graduates from one million in 2000 to more than 8 million in 2019, 5 million of whom earned degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math, giving China more STEM graduates than India, the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, the UK, and Canada combined. It has also upgraded its physical infrastructure by spending more money on building roads, rails, and airports than the U.S. and Europe combined.

Of course, European along with US elites aided all these efforts by outsourcing much of their industry to China, but it shows how Beijing likes to play the long game. The CPC plans to do the same with Europe, unless pushed to do otherwise.  Zhou Bo, a retired PLA colonel and current senior fellow of the Centre for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University, writes the following about the Cold War between the US and China at the South China Morning Post:

The battleground won’t be in the Global South, where the US has very much lost to China, especially in Africa and Latin America. It won’t be in the Indo-Pacific either, where few countries want to take sides. It will be in Europe, where the US has most of its allies and where China is the largest trading partner.

Gradually, the transatlantic alliance will relax. Even if America’s decline is gradual, it cannot afford a global military presence. It will have to retreat from around the world, including from the Middle East and Europe, to focus on the Indo-Pacific, where the US sees China as a long-term threat. Successive US presidents, Republican and Democrat alike, have asked Europeans to take greater ownership of their security. In other words, Europe has to have strategic autonomy, even if it doesn’t want to. That Europe takes China as a partner, competitor and systemic rival at the same time says more about Europe’s confusion about China, than what China really is.

Barring some drastic change of course and the removal of hardcore Atlanticists like von der Leyen and Baerbock, Europe will almost certainly blunder its way into a destructive de-risking or whatever they want to call it with China before it can resolve that confusion. That’s might be a major problem with Beijing’s logic: if European relations with Russia are any indication, Brussels is more than happy to shoot itself in the foot, and it will do so primarily for the sake of the US that is engaging in the same practices through the Inflation Reduction Act that the EU claims is one of the reasons it must take a tougher stance against China.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the following at an April 27 speech on “renewing American economic leadership” at the Brookings Institution:

We will unapologetically pursue our industrial strategy at home—but we are unambiguously committed to not leaving our friends behind.  We want them to join us.  In fact, we need them to join us.

With friends like these…

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  1. ventzu

    At the root of the decoupling with Russia and China is surely the need to undermine the emergence of a world in which the non-‘Collective West’ has optionality, and can indeed trade and prosper without significant ownership by western elite interests.

    Your implicit assumption is that EU and UK politicians at least try to act in the interests of their people, as opposed to acting only to keep them sufficiently appeased and quiescent, in order to remain in power; beyond that the sycophancy that put them into positions of power and that will underwrite their personal careers and wealth, ensures that they do the ‘right’ thing.

    That then begs the question why do all the major industrialists and billionaires in Europe go along with this – vide the muted non-reaction to the Nordstream sabotage?

    Perhaps because they personally are diversified?
    Perhaps because the ‘collective West’ still represents their largest, albeit slower growing markets; and they are more concerned about the competitive threat of Chinese business in the longer term?
    Perhaps because they think they can sidestep supply chain dependencies?
    Perhaps because they have bought the kool-aid of a Manichean struggle? And relatedly, because the fundamental instinct and aspiration of capitalist enterprise is to acquire monopoly / oligopolistic power?

    Ultimately because of a deeply inculcated Western ‘exceptionalism’ and superiority – having ruled the wold for the last 500+ years, it is inconceivable to imagine a world in which the West does not call the shots. The garden vs the jungle.

    Interestingly the instinct of the working class Brits to Brexit has proved to be prescient – not from a personal economic perspective, but certainly from the perspective of abhorrence at the dictatorship of unelected career sycophants and City financiers.

    It seems to me that the present presents a slim window of opportunity for revolt, with the increasing awareness of the deceptions around Russiagate, COVID vaccines, income inequality, elite corruption, and now the provocations on Ukraine and Taiwan . . . at least before they find the means to reign in alternative news channels (small ‘c’).

    Jeremy Cornyn was disposed of. As was Bernie Sanders – though a posteriori he has been disappointing. We’ll see how RFK is co-opted or disposed of.

    Perhaps the best hope IS for the West / Europe to collapse, to precipitate an end to the current entrenched elite power, so that it can re-boot? Unfortunately that also carries the risk of elites gliding into fascism – but aren’t we going there already?

    1. Jams O'Donnell

      There’s an interesting discussion of the role of ‘Liberalism’ in the perverting of European society and political culture to its present state, here:

      In the comments section the author agrees that Liberal Europe may be in an analogous position to that of England before “. . . the political elite [reeled] from the shock of German industrial competition and the shambles of the Crimean War.” and that possibly only a similar shock can jolt Europe out of its fixation on maintaining a vassal status to the US.

  2. Ignacio

    Oh my!
    Once upon a time the EU was about foreign agreements outwards and about keeping some sanity inwards when trying to be “proportional” and “subsidiary” to EU states politics. Now, IMO, it is a mess. The only tool it has outwards is sanctions. Diplomacy of sanctions? What a grand new concept. And inwards, besides the sanctions, it is all about setting targets without acknowledging if these are feasible but just transferring the burden on already stressed state, regional and local administrations. I am starting to see more clearly the pattern for a rupture in the EU.

    IMO, and I would like a discussion here with people like Aurelien, PK, Col Smithers and others, the EC is corrupting the EU treaties, particularly the concept of subsidiarity and proportionality in EU politics by the recourse to setting binding targets such as those described here by Conor (the NZIA, for instance) which are equal for states and regions which, IMO, are all too diverse to apply such targets equally. After those binding targets, the EC will be able to sanction the countries that do not comply after showing, first yellow, then red cards using their football/soccer analogies they love so much. This is not proportional, neither subsidiary. A new example to come soon (by the 25th of May) will be the Nature Restoration Act, the newest and ambitious example of target settling without prior feasibility analysis, called also de “Green Deal” that Timmermans is pushing now.

    First time I read about this Anti Coercion Instrument (ACI). Will the EU dare to use it against the US? Because regarding coercion, I believe the US is the Master, mind you. I think that Conor has done here a very good exercise showing here some of the contradictions of EU policies. Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg, but a good starting point. Thank you for the post!

    1. Altandmain

      The European Council and the governments of all the Western nations are now governed by a ruling class that has given up on even pretending to be public servants working for the common prosperity of the common citizen. What’s left is a regime in each Western nation and in the supranational organizations like the EU or the WTO that serve the rich.

      The other consideration is that a big part of the reason why the EU was created was to prevent the possibility of another war after the first two world wars in Europe through great economic cooperation. That has been flipped by the constant effort to regime change the Russians and the Chinese.

      Instead we see governments desperately trying to hold onto their power and in the case of the US, their hegemony. The ruling classes have sacrificed their middle and working classes to feed their greed. That’s what the whole free trade system was about. It was to gut the New Deal and social democracies in favor of a more ruthlessly exploitative form of capitalism. Essentially the plan was naked class warfare at home and neocolonial dominance of the Global South.

      Vladimir Lenin may have last laugh about this one. He once noted that the capitalists will hang sell you the rope to hang them with. That may very well have happened with the loss of manufacturing and other operational capabilities in the Western world. We are starting to see this with the Western industrial base. The inability to keep up in artillery shell production with Russia is a good example.

      Whatever else one may think about China and Russia under Putin, there has been a round of spectacular economic growth. Especially in the case of China, their economic system makes a mockery of the Western neoliberal system that the West sought to impose on China. That’s a devastating critique of neoliberalism, considering how loudly the neoliberal types boast about how their economic system is supposedly superior at producing growth.

      We are now seeing the consequences of the failed neoliberal system and foreign policy in the Western world. The ruling class hates what is happening, but is unable to reverse it, and unable to engage in any sort of self reflection as to how their failed ideological motives, along with their greed, got them into this situation to begin with.

  3. Michaelmas

    …if European relations with Russia are any indication, Brussels is more than happy to shoot itself in the foot …

    Indeed, here’s the front page of today’s FT —

    G7 and EU to ban restart of Russian gas pipelines

    Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found at

    ‘…The decision, which is to be finalised by G7 leaders at a summit in Hiroshima next week, will prevent the resumption of Russian pipeline gas exports on routes to countries such as Poland and Germany, where Moscow cut off supplies last year and triggered an energy crisis across Europe.

    ‘Western powers want to ensure that Russia does not receive a boost to its energy revenues as they attempt to raise economic pressure 15 months after Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

    ‘One of the officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, said the move was “to make sure that partners don’t change their mind in a hypothetical future”….’

    Note, too, the ‘all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity.’

  4. Eustache de Saint Pierre

    The indiscreet harm of the Bourgeoisie – irrational if not actually surreal.

  5. TomDority

    While Qin stressed China’s neutrality and its efforts to formulate a peace plan, Baerbock insisted neutrality is not an option. “Neutrality means taking the side of the aggressor,”
    Sounds just like both the Democratic and Republican campaign strategy….aimed to invoke fear among the independents to vote for Dem or Repub as a vote for America or the enemy……I guess it’s why the Dem party campaigners managers are so want to have Trump on the ticket and why the Repubs want to have Biden on the ticket; makes it easier to raise campaign cash, get sensationalized air time to grandstand and eliminates the need to present a coherent platform with planks that actually benefit the majority constituency.
    Getting back to Baerbock…. just the same playbook. My question is …who is the aggressor – Baerbock or Qin? same question for many other conflicts
    George Bush the shrub said it….. ‘you are either for us or against us’

    1. Chris Smith

      “Neutrality means taking the side of the aggressor” = “you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists”

      Almost all binaries are false binaries.

  6. SocalJimObjects

    Europe is heading towards endarkment, but hei at least in the end it’s really going to be this really awesome garden!!!

    1. Sausage Factory

      only for the elites for everyone else it will be a poverty ridden feudalist dictatorship.

      1. MFB

        I suspect that in the long run the Euro-garden will be fertilized with the blood and entrails of the current Euro-elites.

        It’s happened before.

  7. The Rev Kev

    Several years ago there was a lot of talk about Trump Derangement Syndrome and we all saw examples of it – and still do. But I would claim that we now have a new one – Ukraine Derangement Syndrome. At the EU foreign ministers meet, Josep Borrell came right out and said that the EU relations with China will not develop unless China convinces Russia to leave Ukraine and that the EU does not like circumventions of sanctions – meaning you China. But he was also saying at the same time that the war in Ukraine is an “existential conflict” for the EU. Seriously? This is what I mean. Anything to do with the Ukraine and all reason goes out the window. Definitely a case of UDS.

    But wait – there was more. He also said that the EU has two major strategic security issues with China. The first is about Taiwan which is on the other side of the planet from the EU. The second was a country which I will not name but you can guess which one. Conner in this post also mentioned Lithuania. It was at this same meet that the Lithuanian Foreign Minister called on the EU to speak with China “in the language of force.” Do these people even hear themselves? It’s a bit late to send gunboats up the Yangtze as that all came to an end with the Amethyst Incident.

    Just remember people – Ukraine Derangement Syndrome is real. Look for the symptoms! Do they have a Ukrainian flag on their social media account? Definitely a sufferer. Do they have the Ukrainian flag on their law? Also a sufferer. If you come across one, smile, agree with whatever they say, and back away slowly while maintaining eye contact.

    1. Polar Socialist

      I’ve started to think that Ukraine is existential battle to the EU circles that are full into the neocolonialism (ref: The Capitalist Road Was The Wrong Choice For Ukraine). Of which Borrell The Gardener is a prime example.

      Should Ukraine lose the war, as it looks like it will, the European project will have to reinvent itself in a multipolar world, and it may find it very difficult to treat other countries as equal and actually compete with them instead of looting. The sheer horror of Europe finding out that it’s ascendancy was just a fluke, not a predestined greatness…

      It just appears as derangement, because one can’t really say any of this out loud, can one? Well, except for the head diplomat of the EU, course.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I don’t know what will happen when this war ends as far as Europe is concerned. They have already burnt every bridge that they had with Russia and are now intent on doing the same with China. What sort of economy will that leave them with? They are already talking about cannibalizing their social security systems to pay for a huge military establishment because Russia. I can only see lots of social unrest across that continent as all this sinks in and lots of political instability. Maybe even a break between the eastern nations and the central/western nations as their interests diverge more and more. It’s gunna be a mess.

    2. Ignacio

      The Ukrainian flag is posted in the Euro-Parliament building in Brussels together with those of the member states. And a poster that says “for as long as it takes”. Taiwan flag soon to be posted next to the EP building?

      1. The Rev Kev

        As I said last year, the big tell will be when people have Taiwan’s flag on their social media accounts. You know that it is going to happen. :)

        But hey, maybe next year they can invite Taiwan into the Eurovision contest in Sweden. They aren’t in Europe you say? True, but neither is Australia and we have been there for years. No idea why.

      2. Ignacio

        In some way Ukraine might be considered the most “privileged” member of the EU, except for the much more than nasty collateral consequences of such privilege. The only rule they have to comply is to kill as many Russians as they can.

  8. Carolinian

    At the same time, Beijing is still dreaming that somehow wiser minds prevail and the EU will free itself from the US’ grasp.

    Or is it that the US needs to free itself from Europe’s grasp? It isn’t talked about anymore but there was a time when the American public–much of which came from Europe–strongly resisted being dragged into Europe’s endless internal quarrels. That was true both before WW1 and WW2. FDR had to nudge Japan into attacking us for America to finally go up against Hitler. In the years since we’ve heard endless denunciations of America First and “appeasement” but arguably the conclusion of WW1 at least would have been better if we hadn’t intervened. And WW1 led to WW2.

    Now people like Blinken and Nuland with strong Eastern Europe ties have pushed us into yet another American intervention with the British and their centuries longs hostility toward Russia a big part of it. And it’s not just about foreign lobbying because our native upper class also needs wars to distract from their Wall Street predations.

    Here’s suspecting that to an increasing degree the American public have had enough. But where will they find a champion?

    1. OIFVet

      “Or is it that the US needs to free itself from Europe’s grasp?”

      Dunno about that. I don’t see billions of Euros being poured from Europe into US NGOs and think tanks with the express purpose of building “civil society” and grooming lackeys “leaders” to do EU’s bidding. However, we have billions of dollars flowing into Europe to do just that. Eastern Europeans like Poles and the Baltics, in particular, were groomed to exert outsized influence in the EU following “Old Europe’s” refusal to get involved in Iraq II. The results are evident.

      Americans should face the reality that their leaders are responsible for what’s happening. It’s tempting to blame Euro influence, but it is simply not grounded in fact IMO, not even as it pertains to the Nulands and the Blinkens of the US. I suspect that ridding the US of its “leaders” will be a much harder task for Americans than getting rid of its leaders will be for the Europeans. The latter have a rather established tradition in doing just that, while Americans have none.

      1. Carolinian

        Maybe. But until recently the relationship was working pretty well for Europeans. It’s only after the 90s that we became the true hegemon and only after 9/11 that Blair and the poodles really wagged their tails.

        Meanwhile Churchill had a lot to do with the Cold War and the CIA and MI 6 were tight. You don’t have to believe in the Rhodes scholar conspiracy theory to suggest that the British have a strong influence on the Atlanticists. Are they helping to keep the Empire going by proxy and thereby serving elites globally?

        Netanyahu said America is “easily moved” (meaning its politicians). For some of us in middle America the Washington foreign policy obsession smacks of more than “born in the USA.” Just my SC view.

  9. Sausage Factory

    “While Europe struggles to deal with the loss of Russian energy” Here’s the rub, it hasn’t even started. Largest importer of Russia gas is China, second largest is the EU. EU has become suicidal subsidiary of US colonialist destructive world view. All I can see in the future is a return to printing money and low interest rates and war, it is the American way. Will the populations of both continents walk willingly into this oblivion? Nope, the US vision is that the EU will be doing the fighting and the dying whilst they play with their obsolete toy aircraft carriers in the south china seas.

  10. Alex Cox

    NZIA is a very ill-chosen acronym given that it’s an obvious anagram of another word… But I’m sure the Azov Batallion will approve!

    1. Irrational

      That was my first thought when I read about this proposal. Glad I am not alone ;-)

    2. Scylla

      They make very curious decisions over there, that send very interesting signals. This ranks right up there with the decision to send 14 Leopard 2’s and 88 Leopard 1s…..1488- you cannot make this stuff up.

  11. EquitableEqual

    VDL selected an odd set of four letters for her european strategic autonomy act..

  12. Glen

    Once again this article begs the question:

    What are the people of the EU and America being asked to FIGHT FOR in Cold War 2?

    Because in Cold War 1, it was VERY CLEAR that the standards of living in Europe and America were better than in the USSR and China.

    What are we fighting for now? The further wrecking of the middle class? Crushing labor? Wrecking education? Failed infrastructure? Nightmare heath care? Unaffordable housing?

    1. Carolinian

      Jobz for think tankers! Think of the think tank children.

      And re my comment above–while the public may be having enough of all this that certainly doesn’t apply to our South Carolina politicians like Lindsey or Joe Wilson. Trump too has been a big China hawk although not quite as nutty as Graham.

      Clearly there’s something in the water down here although for the above mentioned it may be the DC water. Still, that wouldn’t explain Nikki Haley. We are all “inside the Beltway” now?

    2. Polar Socialist

      As a kid I visited USSR several times in the 70’s and frankly I don’t recall any clear difference in the standard of living at the time. I remember my dad was actually impressed, considering the level Soviet Union started from and how devastating the WW2 had been, that they almost did catch up regardless.

      Anyhow, my understanding is that EU and the America are now fighting to retain The West as the hegemon, to continue the neocolonialist and neoliberalist control over the globe. Middle class, labor, education, infrastructure, health care and housing are just the price The West is willing to pay for it.

      1. Kouros

        There was a time when the rising colonial power US and the established colonial powers from Europe didn’t really have a middle class and “entitlements” to speak of. The militarization and austerity for the masses is trying to move EU back to that golden age. Oh, I have a big bag of popcorn and lots of beer in preparation for that game to start.

        1. Jams O'Donnell

          “The militarization and austerity for the masses is trying to move EU back to that golden age”

          Yes. But the further back they move, the closer they get to 1789.

      2. spud

        you are correct, the free traders were so so close this time to have the whole world in their hands, now they are watching their feverish grip slip away.

        they must absolutely be in a fit of rage, more than willing to blame every one, and anyone for the obvious failure of their own idiotology.

        Lenin predicted a bill clinton, and the capitalists provided him with one. so why the outrage by the west when it was predicted as to what they would do.

        its not chinas fault, its not russias fault, although i think russia did not catch on even today fully as to what lenin predicted, china surely did. now russia knows. but they were to busy trying to discredit their communist past.

        so the trampoline jumper in germany, is really no different than the rulers of the fascist construct the E.U.

        in their eyes, they see no different than the eyes of the fascist construct leaders of the E.U., or any other western nation captured by idiotologies.

        they are simply more than willing to sacrifice the deplorable, because its our fault we never learned how to code, not their fault for free trading away all of the countries real wealth, skills, machines, factories, technologies, etc., and let what they think are subhumans eat our lunch.

      3. R.S.

        Yes, the pictures of abject poverty, bread queues, empty shelves and the like usually come from the very end of the USSR, or from the 90s.

        (Disclaimer: I wasn’t there, just summarizing my impressions from what I’ve heard and read) There was definitely some feeling of malaise around in the late 70s and early 80s. But the real devastation came with Gorbachev’s economic reforms. The Soviet distribution system was already kinda wobbling, but after the reforms it just failed. Food rationing was actually introduced in 1988 (before that rationing and “queues” were applied mostly to things like personal cars, imported high-end appliances and the like, but not to basic goods). Along with that, Gorbachev’s “coops” and import-export reforms created a whole class of well-connected guys with literally millions of unaccounted cash. My impression is, the country around 1989-90 was in a freefall, with ethnic conflicts, seditionist movements, crime and hidden inflation all around.

    3. eg

      I keep trying to get my friends to see this — just what are non-western people supposed to find attractive about our societies?

  13. truly

    Net Zero Industry Act, acronym NZIA.
    Hmm. Is it just me having a hard time figuring out how to pronounce that?
    Do they not have anyone in marketing/public relations that caught how uncomfortable it might be to have that abbreviation become an acronym?
    I guess just further evidence of the erosion of talent in the west to not even get this figured out.

  14. Irrational

    To answer Ignacio’s call at the top (and at the risk of repeating myself):
    The EU was supposedly about creating peace and prosperity – now, well, it seems to be a little bit more like the opposite: war and impoverishing Europeans. In fact, using EU budget for ammo as has just been decided is a violation of the EU treaty.
    All in the name of promoting “European values”. I thought they were democracy, protecting the rights of minorities and transparency, but now the EU is supporting a country that has banned all opposition parties, has been bombing part of their population for 9 years and with a totally corrupt government and everyone is totally fine with this? Baerbock is the most popular politician in Germany, go figure.
    I quite honestly feel like I am living in the matrix and I have swallowed a different colored pill from most of the people I talk to every day. If you tread carefully, you can find a few like-minded souls.
    Were it not for NC, the commentariat and other news sources frequently cited here I think I would be going mad. As it is, I am not very optimistic about the future of Europe – it will get very dark indeed.

  15. MFB

    These politicians seem to be winging it hoping that in the end it will either all come right for them, or Uncle Sam will bail them out if things go pear-shaped.

    I don’t foresee a Marshall Plan if Europe crumbles under the weight of its leaders’ suicidal decisions.

    1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      What they are undertaking at the moment is more like the Morgenthau plan as an alternative to Marshall, which was suggested before the end of WW2 to destroy Germany’s industry & replace with some sort of rural idyll. I guess it will become interesting if the Dutch farmer experiment works out for the Eurocrats, leading them to apply it on a wider scale to those who should be taking note.
      Artist Anselm Keifer reflected on the plan –

      1. dandyandy

        It’s amazing I know but if you live in U.K. you would not know that a mass destruction of farms in Netherlands is a real process which is taking place as we speak. Unless you happen to sift through obscure corners of Grauniad and Speks and the absurdly named Foreign Police department.

        This is what is happening to our Dutch neighbours. There is not a pipsqueak in our U.K. based agricultural media like Farmers Weekly or such like.

        How long before our U.K. farmers be culled at the altar of Zero Carbon Hoax God?

        How long for Yanks, Frenchies and Canucks and the other higher fruits.

  16. Isla White

    Have the Chinese found a solution to the ding – dong paralysis in US politics?

    Create a Legislative Council – as they have now done for Hong Kong’s ‘local’ elections – and have 80% of the seats allocated to pre-selected and vetted ‘patriots’.

    Only 20% of seats available for the Republicans and Democrats to squabble over!

    Democratically-elected seats to be slashed to 20% for local Hong Kong elections; candidates vetted

    After a pro-democracy landslide in 2019, only 88 seats in November’s District Council elections will be directly elected by the public – down from 452 in the last poll. 179 will be appointed by the city’s leader, whilst all candidates will be screened.
    2 May 2023

    1. tevhatch

      I think the original formula was British: appoint landlords, rentiers, and their servants to seats in the colony’s legislative council, and use the local community boards as 100% appointed bodies where the small time criminals are corralled to work for the state. It really is quite similar to US National / Local political system at the party level.

      Under the British the local councils became seats of political corruption, a way to funnel money into the triads in the NT and other similar organs which could be used to keep the native population scared and in their place without application of visible state force (ie: the police, customs, or tax authority). The CPC’s local office found them useful for the same effect after the take over in 1997, so these were actually anti-democratic organs. The anti-corruption campaign in China is simply catching up in Hong Kong. A good sign of this is the drop in rents on private property over the last year and a half, as artificial removal of space by the district councils has been stopped. My daughter can finally book a badminton court when she wants and cheaply, without having to pay off touts and que for weeks. etc.

      1. Isla White

        Bravo for badminton players but we must cast the net wider ….

        What stands out is that several generations of Hong Kongers have seen the old system left by the British as an
        improvement on what is now mandated by the CCP.
        Strong enough to have several hundred thousand younger Hong Kongers protesting over the years; the real enthusiasts knowing the consequences yet getting themselves jailed. Unlikely to be much badminton there!

        Tens of thousands, well educated and multi-lingual, emigrating and welcomed elsewhere, many to the colonial oppressor!

        Across the bay total silence; no young Macaoense has bought into anything rose tinted. Nothing taught them, as worth hanging onto, by their parents and grandparents from their days under Portuguese rule.


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