European Union Fooreign Ministers have expressed support and solidarity with France during a meeting in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, to discuss Australia’s scrapping of a $40 billion submarine order with Paris in favor of a US and British deal.
Australia said last week it would cancel an order for conventional submarines from France and instead build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with US and British technology after striking a security partnership with those countries under the name AUKUS.
The cancellation decision was not received well by France, to say the least. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused US President Joe Biden’s administration of continuing his predecessor Donald Trump’s trends of “unilateralism, unpredictability, brutality and not respecting your partner.”
Speaking after the meeting of Foreign Ministers, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters: ‘’There has been a clear expression of solidarity with France, considering that this was not a bilateral issue, but something that is affecting the European Union as a whole and, at the same time, there have been some considerations about how it affects, from different points of view, our relation with Australia, the United States.’’
Earlier, European Council President Charles Michel accused the United States of a lack of loyalty after Australia decided to cancel the contract with France to buy US nuclear submarines.
“The elementary principles for allies are transparency and trust, and it goes together. And what do we observe? We are observing a clear lack of transparency and loyalty,” he said. He added that the move would reinforce European efforts to build their own defense capacity.
Such a move would be “not against our allies, but because if we are stronger and if we are more robust, then it means that our alliances are also stronger,” Michel said.
The United States has sought to assuage the anger in France.French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden are due to speak on the phone in the next few days.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that she expected Biden to “reaffirm our commitment to working with one of our oldest and closest partners on a range of challenges that the global community is facing” when he speaks with Macron.