EU chief Charles Michel accused the United States of a lack of loyalty after Australia cancelled a mega-contract with France to buy US nuclear submarines.
“The elementary principles for allies are transparency and trust, and it goes together. And what do we observe? We are observing a clear lack of transparency and loyalty,” the European Council chief told reporters at the United Nations.
Michel said that he found it difficult to understand the move by Australia, the UK and the US. “Why? Because with the new Joe Biden administration, America is back.
This was the historic message sent by this new administration and now we have questions. What does it mean – America is back? Is America back in America or somewhere else? We don’t know,” he told reporters in New York.
Speaking after the closed-door meeting on the sidelines of the assembly, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said “more cooperation, more coordination, less fragmentation” was needed to achieve a stable and peaceful Indo-Pacific region where China is the major rising power.
The bloc’s foreign ministers “expressed clear solidarity with France,” Borrell said.
“This announcement ran counter to calls for greater cooperation with the European Union in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian earlier on Monday accused the US of betrayal and Australia of back-stabbing.
France submarine project’s delay, cost concerns in Australian docs
France shouldn’t have been surprised that Australia cancelled a submarine contract, as major concerns about delays, cost overruns and suitability had been aired officially and publicly for years, Australian politicians said.
As early as September 2018, an independent oversight board led by a former US Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter had advised Australia to look at alternatives to the French submarine, and questioned whether the project was in the national interest, a 2020 public report from the country’s Auditor-General shows.
Australian parliamentary hearings and reports on the project, first priced at $40 billion and more recently at $60 billion, even before construction had begun, also showed problems emerging.
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