The former Belgian prime minister urged the EU to be “more self-confident” and “act boldly” in international affairs.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Michel said: “It’s important for us to have our own capacities in order to have more weight.

“We will never be aggressive or offensive but we have to be more self-confident.”

Mr Michel will be at the centre of EU policy making as he takes over as chair of the national leaders’ summit next month.

He said the bloc needed to agree on ambitious reforms to create European diplomacy, common defence and trade policy, and called for a “permanent upgrade” in mutual trust among EU leaders.

The EU should work better to coordinate foreign policy to boost development in Africa, which was “the best way to prevent illegal migration”.

He added: “For me it is crucial for Europe not to be collateral damage of these tensions between China and the United States”.

Last week, incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen set alarm bells ringing after suggesting the EU was ready to ditch “soft power” and flex its “muscles”.

In a speech delivered in Berlin, Ms von der Leyen said Brexit had forged a tighter group out of the remaining members of the bloc.

She said: “We must go our own European way with confidence.

“Soft power alone won’t suffice today if we Europeans want to assert ourselves in the world.

“Europe must also learn the language of power.

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source: express.co.uk

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