On Monday, European Union foreign ministers expressed support and solidarity with France during a meeting with New York to discuss Australia’s scrapping of a $40 billion submarine order with Paris in favour of a US and British deal.
The foreign ministers of the Twenty Seven, “have clearly expressed their solidarity with France,” “a clear support,” said Josep Borrell. “The subject is first of all that of the breach of trust between allies, and that “calls for serious reflection among Europeans,” also said Jean-Yves Le Drian at a press conference.
Speaking after the closed-door meeting on the side-lines annual UN gathering of world leaders, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell stated “more cooperation, more coordination, less fragmentation,” was needed to achieve a stable and peaceful Indo-Pacific region where China is the major rising power.
Australia has stated last week that 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. This decision had angered France and earlier on Monday in New York 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.”
The United States has sought to assuage the anger in France, a NATO ally. French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden are due to speak on the phone in the next few days.
For Paris, the blow is hard. “The Australian decision is not just a decision to go for a nuclear-powered submarine,” says National University professor Hugh White. “It’s a decision to deepen and consolidate our strategic alignment with the United States against China. It only reinforces the sense that we are in a new Cold War in Asia and that Australia is betting that the United States will emerge victorious.”