France weighs Australia options, urges Britain to restore trust By Reuters
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – France is assessing all options in response to Australia’s scrapping of a $40 billion submarine contract, French European affairs minister Clement Beaune said on Tuesday, while urging Britain to respect its post-Brexit commitments.
Australia stated last week that they would not order conventional submarines from France, but instead will build at most eight nuclear-powered submarines based on U.S. and British technology.
Beaune called relations with Australia “very difficult” now.
“We can’t act as though nothing ever happened. “We need to explore all options,” he said before meeting with reporters in Brussels.
New York’s meeting of EU foreign ministers saw them express solidarity with France.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, told CNN there are many questions.
She stated that “one of our members has been treated in an unacceptable manner, so we must know why and what happened.”
Beaune praised the EU’s support and stressed that it was an EU matter, not a French one, and that the bloc must be stronger in protecting its interests.
German Europe Minister Michael Roth said that the AUKUS agreement was a wake up call for Europe and it would be difficult to restore trust.
France has so far removed its diplomats from Washington and Canberra. Britain was described as being “opportunistic” by Beaune.
Beaune claimed that the move was indicative of an erosion in British trust after Brexit. Britain also failed to properly apply the EU-UK fishing agreement and the protocol that governs the Northern Ireland trading relationship, Beaune said.
You cannot promise that you’ll uphold what suits you, and to drop the ones that don’t. He said that trust, consistency and respect for agreements are essential.
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