As the tempers run high in France over the controversial nuclear submarine deal between the United States and Australia, the European Union ambassadors have postponed discussions to prepare for a new EU-US trade and technology council on September 29 in protest.
The submarine agreement between the US and Australia has been done at France’s expense, two EU diplomats said. A public agenda document also shows the talks between the EU’s 27 envoys had been withdrawn but did not give a reason. Two diplomats said the European Commission, the EU executive, had asked for the discussion to be postponed.
France is furious after the US and Australian decision to strip it of a submarine supply contract.
France believes that the United States, Australia, and Britain worked behind its back to negotiate their AUKUS defence pact and replace Canberra’s multi-billion-dollar order of French submarines with US ones.
Meanwhile, the European Commission said it was considering whether the diplomatic storm would affect a gathering of a new EU-US Trade and Technology Council in Pittsburgh on September 29 to discuss ways to cooperate on trade and regulating big tech.
“We are analysing the impact that the AUKUS announcement would have on this date,” European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said.
France’s minister for trade Franck Riester has not yet decided whether to travel to Pittsburgh. He was not formally part of the EU negotiating team, which is made up of European Commission officials.
The inaugural EU-US council announced at a transatlantic summit in June, is due to take place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen told broadcaster CNN that treatment of France was “not acceptable.”
An EU diplomat said France had “floated” the idea of delaying the TTC meeting, though they face opposition from the Baltic republics, which border Russia and set great store in the NATO alliance.
The European Commission, which handles trade policy for the EU’s 27 member states, already said on Monday it was looking into delaying negotiations with Australia on Canberra’s three-year bid to secure an EU trade deal.