France will send Australia a bill over abandoned multi-billion-dollar submarine deal
France’s defense contractor Naval Group is preparing to send Australia a bill after Canberra scrapped a submarine contract with Paris in favor of a security alliance with Washington and London, Le Figaro reported.
Naval Group chief executive Pierre Éric Pommellet told France’s Le Figaro newspaper that a bill will be sent to Australia in the coming weeks.
“We were in shock. This decision was announced to us without any notice. Very few companies have experienced such a brutal scenario,” he said.
He added his company is preparing a detailed analysis for incurred costs due to Australia’s abandonment of the deal, highlighting that the company will “assert its rights”.
“Australia terminated the contract for ‘convenience’, to use the legal term, which in fact means that we are not at ‘fault’,” Pommellet said.
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 US and Australia.
US President Joe Biden spoke with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to soothe Paris’ concerns.
However, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told American counterpart Antony Blinken on Thursday that the way to resolve the crisis between France and the US will take “time” and “action”.