Escalation – submarine dispute: EU supports Paris

In the dispute over the failed sale of French submarines to Australia, the EU pledged France’s support. 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. Meanwhile, preparations for a business and technology talk with the United States have been postponed.

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. This needs to be discussed together. You couldn’t continue as if nothing had happened. All options should be considered. A spokesperson for the European Commission, which leads negotiations on the free trade agreement on the basis of a mandate from EU states, had already said on Monday that the effects of the agreement on sub- sailors were being analyzed.

AUCUS and its effects

On Thursday, Australia, Britain and the United States announced an Indo-Pacific Security Pact (AUKUS) – 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.

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.

European Minister Karoline Edtstadler (ÖVP) has shown understanding for France. “I can well understand that the French are also annoyed here,” Edtstadler said ahead of a meeting with his EU counterparts in Brussels on Tuesday. If Europe is united, “it can also act strongly in the world”, she added. Defense is certainly an issue that Europe “will have to deal more and more with,” Edtstadler stressed. 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.

“The ministers expressed their clear solidarity with France,” Borrell stressed in New York. The problem does not concern only France, but the whole of the EU. Borrell said he regretted that the EU was left out of the alliance during a meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne. French Secretary of State for Europe Beaune said he was delighted with the EU’s support in Brussels on Tuesday.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has clearly criticized the new security alliance. “What was decided there and the way in which this decision was taken is irritating. And it is not sobering only for France,” Messe said at the start of the general UN debate. Maas said he sees no further “hardening” on the United States. We will now have to reflect in Europe on how to achieve more sovereignty. “It will ultimately be up to us in Europe whether we can handle it or not.”

The new security alliance was also the subject of a meeting between EU Council President Charles Michel and Australian Prime Minister Morrison on Tuesday in New York. There was an “honest, direct and lively exchange,” said Michel. There must be clarity among friends.

The current Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, meanwhile, has removed preparations for the EU’s planned high-level talks with the US government on trade and technology policy from a meeting’s agenda. EU ambassadors in Brussels on Wednesday, according to the preliminary agenda. In fact, senior officials from the European Commission and the US government wanted to coordinate the common approach on important global trade, economic and technology issues at the first Euro-US trade and technology council in Pittsburgh next week on Wednesday. Vice-Presidents Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovskis were to represent the European Commission, which would represent EU states at the meeting. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Trade Representative Katherine Tai have been announced for the US government.

French President Emmanuel Macron previously temporarily withdrew the ambassadors from the United States and Australia – a highly unusual move among friends and allies. On Tuesday, Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed their willingness to act together in the Indo-Pacific during telephone consultations. The objective is to promote regional stability and the rule of law while avoiding any form of supremacy, the Elysee said.

Biden wants to call Macron in the next few days to sort things out. A date has not been set. The US president addressed the United Nations General Assembly for the first time since taking office on Tuesday, expressly declaring his support for multilateralism. Biden did not specifically address the Indo-Pacific dispute in his speech, but also affirmed the desire for international cooperation with partners and institutions such as the United Nations in view of this region.

Subsequently, Biden met with Morrison for a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the UN general debate in New York. Both stressed the close alliance of their countries and the importance of their new security alliance with Britain. But they tried to appease the critics. Morrison said their partnership also affects many other like-minded allies in Asia and Europe with whom they have common interests. Biden said their alliance was in line with all other democracies in the world.

Tuesday afternoon (local time) Biden wished to receive British Prime Minister Johnson for a bilateral meeting in Washington. On Friday, the US president invited key allies from the Indo-Pacific region – his colleagues from Australia, Japan and India – to a White House summit (Apa / dpa / Reuters)

Winston Ferguson

"Total travelaholic. Subtly charming zombie geek. Friend of animals everywhere. Music buff. Explorer. Tv junkie."

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