FRANCE has scuppered the European Union’s trade negotiations with Australia amid growing anger over the lost submarine deal.
Paris has signalled it will block future talks between Brussels and Canberra after the latter’s decision to renege on a contract for French-built submarines Australia instead agreed to a new pact with Britain and the United States to purchase nuclear-powered vessels. Clement Beaune, France’s hardline Europe minister, said future negotiations between the EU and Australia would be “unthinkable” as a result of the feud.
He suggested that Brussels, which has held 11 rounds of talks with Canberra, could not continue its wrangling because of a breach of trust.
Mr Beaune, a close ally of President Emmanuel Macron, told the Politico news website: “Keeping one’s word is the condition of trust between democracies and between allies.
“So it is unthinkable to move forward on trade negotiations as if nothing had happened with a country in which we no longer trust.”
While the European Commission handles trade negotiations on behalf of EU member states, each agreement must be rubber-stamped by all 27 national capitals before it can enter into force.
Paris has a history of sinking EU trade negotiations because of its opposition to such agreements.
In 2016, former president Francois Hollande scuppered the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks with the United States.
And more recently Mr Macron crashed the Mercosur agreement with South American countries.
France has responded furiously to the signing of the so-called AUKUS deal between Australia, the US and the UK.