Diplomacy – Underwater dispute strains EU-US relations

The European Union has postponed preparations for trade and technology negotiations with the United States to protest the US-UK submarine deal with Australia. Discussions agreed on the September 29 meeting in Pittsburgh were initially suspended, two EU diplomats in Brussels said on Tuesday.

The French Secretary of State for Europe, Clément Beaune, did not rule out a breakdown in the ongoing negotiations between the EU and Australia on a free trade agreement. European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen called the new submarine deal “unacceptable”. Von der Leyen pointed out in an interview with CNN: “One of our member states has been treated in a way that is not acceptable. So we want to know what happened and why.

The foreign ministers of the EU member states discussed it at a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York and found the situation “very disappointing”, the representative of EU Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell in New York.

German Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth said he understood France’s disappointment. “We must all come to the same table, here we have to regain the lost confidence and it will of course not be easy,” he added. “It has been demonstrated time and again that united behavior on the part of the EU is of paramount importance.” He spoke of a “wake-up call” for the EU. “We can’t just rely on other people.”

Edtstadler understands France

Austrian Minister for European Affairs Karoline Edtstadler (ÖVP) has also shown understanding for France. “I can well understand that the French are also annoyed here,” Edtstadler said in Brussels on Tuesday. If Europe is united, “it can also act strongly in the world”, she added. From now on, the French should “put all the facts on the table”.

Defense is certainly an issue that Europe “will have to deal more and more with”, stressed Edtstadler. It is about physics on the one hand and defense in the cyber domain on the other. A European army is not the subject now, but “we need the discussion on security as a whole”, said the minister in view of the conference on the future of Europe.

Agreement expired

On Thursday, Australia, Britain and the United States announced an Indo-Pacific security pact – shortly after the EU adopted new Indo-Pacific guidelines. Among other things, the pact provides that Australia will build nuclear-powered submarines using technology from both partners.

This meant that the delivery of conventional submarines with a volume of 40 billion dollars agreed with the French shipping company Naval in 2016 became obsolete. France has recalled the ambassadors of Canberra and Washington, annoyed by the cancellation. In addition, France had threatened to block a free trade agreement between the EU and Australia. The French shipyard first won the contract for Australia against German competition. (apa / Reuters)

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