After Canberra reneged on a contract for French-built submarines, Paris has indicated it may obstruct future discussions between Brussels and Canberra. Instead, Australia agreed to a new agreement to buy nuclear-powered warships with Britain and the United States. France’s hardline Europe minister, Clement Beaune, warned future negotiations between the EU and Australia would be “unthinkable” as a result of the feud.
According to him, there was a breakdown in trust between Brussels and Canberra, and the negotiations could not go on as usual. Keeping one’s word is a requirement of trust between democracies and between allies, according to Mr Beaune, a key ally of President Emmanuel Macron.
“It is unthinkable to move forward on trade negotiations as if nothing had happened with a country in 1which we no longer trust.”
While the European Commission is in charge of trade negotiations on behalf of EU member states, each deal must be signed off on by the 27 national capitals before it can go into effect.
Paris has had a history of undermining EU trade discussions due to its objections. Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations with the United States were derailed in 2016 due to Francois Hollande’s actions as President of France. Furthermore, Mr Macron recently walked away from the Mercosur accord with South American nations.
The signature of the so-called AUKUS agreement between Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom has enraged France. As tensions rise, the French capital has summoned its ambassadors from the United States and Australia. On the other hand, the French refused to remove their senior diplomat from London, stating that Britain is a “fifth wheel on the coach” under the new security agreement.
Le Drian, France’s foreign minister, mocked Britain’s stance and accused it of “permanent opportunism.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made an attempt to defuse the diplomatic crisis by reminding President Macron that the United Kingdom’s “love for France is ineradicable.
In response to his fury, Mr Johnson said that the new Defense Pact is ‘not meant to be exclusionary’ nor does France ‘not meant to be exclusionary.’
The Baltic states are home to the largest present Nato deployment, he explained.
“British troops, French troops side by side; there are no two sets of armed forces that are more capable of integration together and working side by side.”
“Our love of France is ineradicable and what I would say is this AUKUS is not in any way meant to be zero-sum, it is not meant to be exclusionary, it is not something I don’t think anything needs to worry about and particularly not our French friends.”
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Australian officials have also justified the country’s decision to abandon a $26 billion contract with France to buy 12 submarines. Premier Scott Morrison has stated that he does not regret putting Australia’s national interest above all else. According to him, there was no dishonesty in the lead-up to signing the agreement with the French government.
According to Morrison, there would have been every reason to believe that the Attack-class submarine’s capability would not be sufficient to protect our national interests.
“We had made very clear that we would be making a decision based on our strategic national interest.”