Paris/Canberra – ‘The submarine deal between Australia, Britain and the United States is a wake-up call for the European Union. European countries cannot exclusively rely on others. The members of the Union need to cooperate to overcome the differences and speak with one voice’, Minister of European Affairs of Germany, Michael Roth, warned. France has become aggressive over the AUKUS deal and a former British diplomat warned that this could have repercussions on NATO unity. The European Union has also decided to stand firmly behind France and has called a separate meeting on the AUKUS Deal.
Last week, Australia signed an agreement for nuclear submarines and other defence cooperation with the United States and the United Kingdom. Before the deal, Australia held talks with France over a submarine deal. Australia had also approached the French company. Against this background, it is clear that France has been hurt because Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom signed the agreement without talking to France. Two days ago, France recalled its ambassadors to Australia and the United States. But France has not stopped at this and has taken a stance that the issue concerns Europe’s pride.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that the European Union, including France, will now reconsider the concept of alliance and partnership. The French Foreign Minister further clarified that the issue is about a breach of defence agreement and also of trust between allies. Clement Beaune, French Minister for European affairs, said that this could not be ignored as if nothing has happened. The European Union has also backed the French aggression. The European Union called a special meeting on Monday to discuss the issue. European Union President Ursula von der Leyen also warned that the treatment meted out to France was unacceptable.
Senior British diplomat has warned that the aggressive stance adopted by France and the European Union could affect NATO unity. ‘The AUKUS deal has certainly shaken the French confidence in NATO and its members. Therefore, it is likely that France will place greater emphasis on European strategic autonomy in the future. This is a shock for NATO because the foundation of NATO is trust’, Peter Ricketts, a former British diplomat, warned. Ricketts served as ambassador to France as well as a representative to NATO. Meanwhile, France has postponed defence talks with the United Kingdom.
The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia have signed a comprehensive defence cooperation agreement to counter the Chinese hegemonic actions in the Indo-Pacific region. Under the agreement, dubbed the ‘AUKUS Deal’, the United States and the United Kingdom will supply eight nuclear submarines to Australia. In addition, the deal has also been reached for cooperation in the field of long-range missiles, cyber technology, artificial intelligence, and quantum technology.