N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
The EU is an illusion poorer. ‘They’ were so excited when Joe Biden was elected. He was the man who was going to turn the horrible Trump page. The expectations were sky-high and that makes the disappointment in the new US President now all the greater. The reason for it is the cancelled Australian order for twelve French submarines with a price tag of over € 56 billion and Biden who ‘organised’ that the mega-contract went to the US.
The fact that Australia announced last week that it would rather do this business with the United States results logically from the new close strategic and military alliance, called AUKUS ( Australia, the US and the UK ), to counterbalance China. The EU was not invited and didn’t even know about the new alliance on forehand. It was the second bitter pill the EU had to swallow in a short time, after the swift withdrawal from Afghanistan by Biden without any talk with the allies.
The French are in ‘colere’. That is understandable. They miss what they call ‘the contract of the century’. ‘Betrayal, contempt, lies, a knife in the back, breach of trust’ were terms Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, used in an interview. ’Biden’s method is similar to Donald Trump, but without the tweets’, he said.
But see! Support for France comes from ‘Brussels’. Von der Leyen and Michel, both in New York for the UN General Assembly, lashed out at the US. Michel complained about a clear lack of transparency and loyalty from the US. Von der Leyen called the way France was treated unacceptable: ‘ We want to know what happened and why. That’s what we need to clear up before we continue with our “business as usual”’.
Isn’t it striking that the Commission President and the President of the European Council are so vocal about what is in principle a failed commercial deal between a Member State and a third country?