France assesses Australian options and urges Britain to restore confidence | World news
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – France is weighing all options in response to Australia’s cancellation of a $ 40 billion submarine contract, French European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune said on Tuesday, while urging Britain to honor its post-Brexit commitments.
Australia announced last week that it would cancel an order for conventional submarines from France and build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with American and British technology under a new security partnership named AUKUS.
Beaune described relations with Australia now as “very difficult”.
“We cannot act as if nothing has happened. We must examine all options,” he told reporters ahead of a meeting of EU counterparts in Brussels.
EU foreign ministers, meeting in New York, expressed their solidarity with France.
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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told CNN TV there were many questions that needed to be answered.
“One of our member states was treated in a way that is not acceptable, so we need to know what happened and why,” she said.
Beaune welcomed the EU’s support, stressing that it was a European affair, not just a French problem, and that the bloc should assert itself more in the defense of its interests.
German European Minister Michael Roth called the AUKUS pact a wake-up call for the European Union and said rebuilding confidence would not be easy.
France has so far recalled its ambassadors from Canberra and Washington and called Britain’s role “opportunistic”.
Beaune said this marked a further erosion of confidence in Britain after Brexit. Britain, he said, was also not properly implementing the fisheries part of the EU-UK trade deal or the protocol governing Northern Ireland’s trade position.
“You can’t say you’re going to stand up for the things that work for you and drop the things that don’t suit the British. So trust, consistency, sticking to agreements are, I think, essential,” he said. declared.
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop, Marine Strauss, Robin Emmott and Sabine Siebold; editing by Giles Elgood)
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