France stands by von der Leyen

NSEuropean Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described the conduct of the USA, Australia and Great Britain against France in the dispute over the failed submarine deal as “unacceptable”. “There are many unanswered questions that must be answered,” von der Leyen said in an interview with US broadcaster CNN, excerpts of which were published Monday on the online Twitter service. France reacted with fury over Canberra’s withdrawal from a multi-billion dollar submarine deal last week.

“We want to know what happened and why,” the European Commission president stressed. The full interview should be published on Monday evening.

The reason for the unusually violent dispute between the Allies was the creation of a new Indo-Pacific security alliance between the USA, Great Britain and Australia. This prompted the Australian government to abandon its long-term submarine deal with France and buy American nuclear submarines instead.

Then Paris recalled its ambassadors from Canberra and Washington to return to the deliberations. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian complained of a “serious breach of trust”. France’s Minister of State for Europe, Clément Bonn, has hinted that the issue could jeopardize trade talks between Australia and the European Union.

In order to assuage France’s anger over the failed deal, the Allies recently adopted a conciliatory tone. A French government spokesman said US President Joe Biden had asked his colleague Emmanuel Macron to speak. There will be a phone call in the coming days.

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