France has continued to throw its toys out of the pram, this time spectacularly calling off the trade deal in negotiation between the European Union and Australia after the latter repudiated a contract agreed with France to build submarines for the nation in favour for a deal with Brexit Britain and the USA.
The French were incensed by the announcement last week of a security pact between Australia, the USA and the United Kingdom – known as AUKUS – which saw Australian prime minister Scott Morrison pull out of an agreement to purchase £73 billion worth of diesel-electric vessels from the French, instead choosing to invest in submarines equipped with American-British nuclear technology.
After recalling their ambassadors in Washington and Canberra – and accusing Britain of being America’s “lap dog” – Emmanuel Macron’s Europe Minister has now cast doubt over a trade deal between Brussels and Australia which has been in the pipeline for years.
“Keeping one’s word is the condition of trust between democracies and between allies,” Clément Beaune told Politico. “So it is unthinkable to move forward on trade negotiations as if nothing had happened with a country in which we no longer trust.”
The European Commission has to date held 11 rounds of negotiations with the Australian government over a prospective trade deal, but all 27 member states must unanimously sign off on new trade deals, a key stumbling block which has often held up trade deals negotiated by the EU executive previously.
The chair of the European Parliament’s international trade committee, Bernd Lange, also weighed into the ongoing dispute, with the German MEP warning Canberra that “the willingness to compromise, on the European side, has now certainly decreased” as a result of Australia’s French snub in favour of teaming up with London and Washington.
Another round of trade talks with Canberra were expected to be conducted next month, however Brussels is now refusing to confirm that these will go ahead.
“We are analysing the impact of the AUKUS announcement and what this impact would be on this schedule,” the EU Commission’s chief spokesman said.