EU Chief says France’s treatment in Australia, US, UK submarine deal ‘unacceptable’
The way France was treated when the US, Britain and Australia signed a security alliance and submarine deal undercutting Paris’ preexisting contract with Canberra is “unacceptable,” EU chief Ursula von der Leyen told CNN on Monday.
“There are a lot of open questions that have to be answered. One of our member states has been treated in a way that is not acceptable,” she said.
She demanded that a clarification be offered before the states can carry on with “business as usual”.
The US and Britain announced on September 15 a new Indo-Pacific security alliance that will equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, which is widely seen as a move to counter China’s growing influence in the region.
Australia then scrapped a 2016 multi-billion-dollar contract with France to build 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines.
The announcement enraged Paris that accused the Washington of “duplicity”, and Canberra of “betrayal” and declared that a crisis struck at the heart of Western alliances.
France recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia.
In Brussels, diplomats said that the 27-member EU was broadly behind France in its disagreement, but so far they have stopped short of publicly backing France's most aggressive comments.