Australia: 'No sympathy' for France submarine deal says host
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It comes as while France is still licking its wounds over Boris Johnson and Joe Biden entering the AUKUS agreement with Australia. The deal to produce eight nuclear-powered submarines with the US and UK came out France’s expense. It means Australia will not proceed with an earlier $40billion deal with France’s Naval Group.
The discord between the two military partners comes at a time when the idea of sovereign autonomy in Europe clashes with one of unity and partnership within remaining EU members. Consequences of the AUKUS deal fall wider than just France.
French Defence Minister Florence Parly said of the relationship: “Undoubtedly it is a programme in trouble, given the state of our relations with the UK. We are in the process of reflecting on what it is possible to do or not to do with the British.”
Under the 2010 Lancaster House Treaty, designed to bond ties between the French and British military, Paris and London are working on a programme to develop new generation anti-ship missiles by 2030.
The plan was to replace the ageing French Exocet and British Harpoon missiles.
With the project stalling, the French claim the “Ball is in their court”.
Ms Parly went on to say: “This programme was supposed to be the subject of intense discussions in the coming weeks… At a time when they have made the choice, first of Brexit, then of ‘Global Britain’, and finally of even greater dependence on the United States.”
An initial 100 million euro study was joint financed in 2017 between the countries, and showed that post-Brexit Britain and European ties could still thrive.
The stakes are high when it comes to European defence, with France and Britain contributing to 60 percent of European defence spending, as well as 80 percent of research and development spending in the field.
France is seeking to increase cooperation with Germany and French President Emmanuel Macron is pushing for an EU Army – but the UK remains an important influence for the French.
Christian Cambon, chairman of the Senate Defence Committee, said the Franco-British relationship is “suffering a chill.”
He went on to say: “Brexit, whether we like it or not, has not created the most favourable climate, but our industrial, defence and security interests are so important and common that things will get back on track.”
The UK and France, despite facing tough political challenges over Brexit and the AUKUS deal, do have major common goals.
With international terrorism a major factor in the current global world order, both Paris and London share interests in fighting Islamic extremism at home and abroad, as well as managing instability in West Asia.
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There is also the added interest of protecting joint commercial interests in the Indo-Pacific region.
Both France and the UK are also key members of NATO and hold permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council. Which means that in spite of the difference seen between the two in recent times, military cooperation and coordination are mandatory for both parties.
As the dust settles from the impact of Brexit, and the disappointment for France surrounding the AUKUS deal fades, both nations shared responsibilities will force both to comply and cooperate, not as political rivals, but as Western nations sharing common security goals.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega
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