European ministers rallied around France on Tuesday over the US and Australian decision to strip Paris of a submarine supply contract, as the dispute threatened to delay trade talks with Washington and Canberra.
German Europe Minister Michael Roth said France’s diplomatic crisis with the US was a “wake-up call for all of us” on the importance of uniting an often divided EU on foreign and security policy.
Europe broke its silence and backed a furious France, which has accused the United States, Australia and Britain of working behind its back to negotiate their AUKUS defence pact and replace Canberra’s multi-billion-dollar order of French submarines with a US contract.
The show of solidarity from Germany and the EU’s top officials was welcomed by France, which said the breakdown of trust with Washington strengthened the case for Europe to set its own strategic course.
France’s minister for European affairs Clement Beaune called the row “a European issue” not simply a French one, as arrived at ministerial talks in Brussels, with the chaotic US pullout from Afghanistan in August also a source of irritation among EU members.
“I don’t think France is overreacting and I don’t think France should overreact. But when a situation… is serious, I think it’s also our responsibility to state it very clearly,” he said.
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