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According to the army, the Australians had said they were satisfied with the submarine a few hours before breaking the contract

This is not going to alleviate a situation that is getting worse day after day between France and Australia, in the crisis of the submarine contract. The spokesman for the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, Hervé Grandjean, said on Tuesday September 21 on Twitter that, a few hours before the announcement of the breach of the contract, the Australians sent a letter to Paris saying that they were “Satisfied with the performance achievable by the submarine and by the progress of the program”. And to add: ” In short: forward to launch the next phase of the contract. ” He details the ministry’s version in a series of tweets.

The Europeans expressed their solidarity with Paris and stressed the importance of strengthening the EU’s strategic autonomy, but several countries insisted on preserving the transatlantic relationship, during a meeting Tuesday in Brussels.

The case posed a threat to the continuation of negotiations on the free trade treaty between the European Union and Australia, as well as the holding of a first meeting of the United States-European Council on Technology and Trade. , next week in the United States.

Read also: How the United States left France in the dark

The crisis is “An alarm signal for everyone in the EU”, judged the German Secretary of State for European Affairs, Michael Roth. “We must ask ourselves the question of how to consolidate our sovereignty, how we can show more unity on questions of foreign policy and security”, he said. He said he understood “Very good disappointment” of Paris after the announcement of a pact between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom (called “Aukus”), which led to the termination by Canberra of this mega-contract to purchase French submarines.

The French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, also called on the EU to “Awareness” on the need to strengthen its strategic autonomy vis-à-vis its American ally. “We saw it in the Afghan crisis, we see it in this current tension”, did he declare. An opinion also expressed by the Vice-President of the Commission, Maros Sefcovic: “After Kabul, after Aukus, it was natural that we came to the conclusion that we need to focus more on strategic autonomy. “

The President of the European Council, an institution which represents the Member States, Charles Michel, said for his part that he had had on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York a “Frank, direct and lively exchange” with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. It exists “A growing feeling in Europe that something was broken” in relations with Washington, also said the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, the French Thierry Breton. “It’s probably time to take a break and [de les] reset “, he said in a speech in Washington.

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Biden-Macron interview scheduled before the weekend

A telephone interview “Clarification” is planned ” before the end of the week “ between Presidents Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron, according to an adviser to the French Head of State. But while the case calls into question for Paris the continuation of negotiations on the EU-Australia free trade treaty, some countries have called for caution. Irish Minister for European Affairs Thomas Byrne said the crisis should not “To tear apart” existing alliances. “Of course, we have to defend our strategic interests. But we can’t do it by turning in on ourselves ”, added the Swedish Minister for European Affairs, Hans Dahlgren.

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The crisis also threatens the holding, scheduled for September 29 in Pittsburgh, in the northeast of the United States, of the new American-European council responsible for coordinating the policies of the two blocs in the field of technology and trade, which gave concrete expression to a transatlantic rapprochement after years of tension under President Donald Trump.

The Commission said it was assessing the impact of the crisis on this meeting. Claimed by France in protest, according to European sources, a postponement of this meeting however arouses the hostility of several member countries, including the Baltic countries, traditionally aligned with Washington, but also Germany.

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“I hope that we will be able to overcome the transatlantic mistrust because it is in the interest of both Europe and America”, said Lithuanian Deputy Minister Arnoldas Pranckevicius, stressing that “Transatlantic unity” was “The greatest strength (…) in particular vis-à-vis countries like Russia and China ”. A discussion is due to take place between EU ambassadors on Friday.

Our selection of articles on the submarine crisis between France and Australia

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