The European Union has backed France over its stance on AUKUS – the trilateral Asia Pacific security pact between the US, the UK, and Australia – that scuppered a multi-billion dollar submarine deal between Australia and France.
Speaking after the closed-door meeting, EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said that more cooperation and coordination, and less fragmentation was needed to have a stable and peaceful Indo-Pacific region where China is the major rising power.
Borell said that the foreign ministers of the bloc “expressed clear solidarity with France”.
The EU Foreign Policy Chief said, “This announcement ran counter to calls for greater cooperation with the European Union in the Indo-Pacific.”
Earlier, Australia signed the deal to buy French diesel-powered submarines in 2016. The agreement was cancelled when Australia got access to US technology on nuclear-powered vessels after the AUKUS pact.
The trilateral security pact will see the US share the technology of nuclear-powered submarines with Australia and the two other giants. This deal has strained relations between western countries ahead of the start of this week’s annual gathering of world leaders for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Elsewhere, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Monday accused the US of betrayal and Australia of back-stabbing.
Le Drian called on the European leaders to “think hard” about alliances and accused US President Joe Biden’s administration of continuing the unilateralism, unpredictability, brutality and not respecting the partner” as his predecessor Donald Trump.
The US administration will now seek to soothe France which is a NATO ally and Biden will speak to French President Emmanuel Macron soon in the next few days.
France has pushed for several years for a European strategy for boosting economic, political, and defence ties in the Indo-Pacific, which stretches from India and China to Japan and New Zealand. The EU also announced its plan for the Indo-Pacific last week.
Biden will address the UN on Tuesday and is hoping to win over the US’s traditional allies again after Trump’s turbulent presidency which shattered The US ties with most of its allies.
Meanwhile, China, which already has nuclear-powered submarines, has condemned the pact, with President Xi Jinping on Friday warning against “interference from external forces” in the region.