Breaking of the “contract of the century”: for the European Commission, France was treated in an “unacceptable” manner

After a week of high tensions between France and the United States and Australia couple, it is a reaction that was long overdue. The President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, judged, on Monday, “unacceptable” the way in which France was treated within the framework of the security pact concluded between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. United.

“One of our Member States has been treated in a way that is not acceptable (…)“ We want to know what happened and why, ”she told journalist Christiane Amanpour of the American news channel CNN. In his sights, the breach of the “contract of the century” which provided for the sale of 12 French submarines to Australia for an amount of 34 billion euros.

Then it was the turn of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, to denounce, this Monday evening, a “lack of loyalty” on the part of the United States. The European Union asks Washington for a “clarification” in order to “try to better understand what are the intentions behind “the announcement of a strategic partnership between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia,” because it is incomprehensible, “he told reporters in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Indeed, the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom announced Wednesday a strategic partnership to counter China, AUKUS, including the supply of American nuclear-powered submarines to Canberra, which in effect brought the French out. of the game, then a colossal contract had been signed in 2016.

After the Australian announcement, France decided to cancel a reception in Washington, supposed to celebrate the anniversary of a decisive naval battle in the US War of Independence. It had also decided to recall, historically, its ambassadors.

To show its anger, Paris has indeed recalled its ambassador to the United States, an unprecedented act vis-à-vis this historic ally, as well as that in Australia, the country at the origin of the crisis. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is meeting his European counterparts this Monday evening on the sidelines of the UN Security Council.

Repercussions at European level?

Still terribly irritated, France could want to impact, in retaliation, the negotiations conducted in Brussels with a view to concluding a free trade agreement between the European Union and Australia. This weekend, Clément Beaune deemed “unthinkable” the continuation of negotiations as they stand.

Faced with this transatlantic escalation, European leaders remained very absent for the time being. In Berlin, the government “took note” of the situation.

France, which finds itself alone on the front of the stage, hopes to reverse the trend at a meeting of European foreign ministers on Monday evening in New York, on the eve of the opening of the General Assembly of the UN. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already attempted appeasement by recalling his country’s unwavering “love” for France.

Less scrupulous, Australia felt that it did not have to “prove its attachment to France” after the sacrifice of its soldiers by its side during the two world wars. However, he will not have the opportunity to say it face-to-face to Emmanuel Macron, who bypassed the UN GA, where he will be replaced by his Minister of Foreign Affairs. However, he should speak, by phone, with Joe Biden, in the coming days.

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