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EU foreign ministers to discuss submarine dispute on Monday By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Flags of the European Union fly outside the EU Commission Headquarters in Brussels (Belgium), May 5, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

(Reuters) – European Union foreign ministers will on Monday discuss Australia’s scrapping of a $40 billion submarine order with France, a move that has enraged Paris and cast a shadow over free trade talks between the EU and Australia.

According to a spokesperson for European Commission, the meeting will be held at the United Nations General Assembly in New York at 2220 GMT (6:00 p.m. ET).

Australia said last week it would cancel an order for conventional submarines from France and instead build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with U.S. and British technology after striking a security partnership with those countries under the name AUKUS.

France sent its Ambassadors back to Canberra and Washington in protest.

However, it isn’t clear whether the dispute could have an impact on future rounds of EU-Australia trade negotiations scheduled for Oct. 12.

A spokesperson from the Commission stated that the Commission was still analysing the AUKUS’s effect and what its impact on the next round of EU-Australia trade talks, which is scheduled for Oct. 12.

Officials in Brussels saw the U.S.-led Security Agreement as a wakeup call. They also warned not to depend too heavily on the complete reverse of U.S. policy after Trump’s departure.

A diplomat from the EU stated that the AUKUS agreement was a good example of continuity. It shows there’s still a ‘America First” approach, despite Trump’s departure.

The United States will not withdraw from Europe. But, America’s focus now clearly shifts to China and other parts of the Indo-Pacific. This shift will mean that Europe must do more to defend itself.

The chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan earlier prompted new calls for an European quick reaction force in order to decrease the bloc’s dependency on the U.S military.

France is a NATO ally and the United States sought to calm their anger. On Sunday, the French government stated that President Emmanuel Macron will be calling President Joe Biden within the next few days.

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