The US and Australian decision to strip France of a submarine supply contract is a stark reminder the EU must bolster its capacity to act independently, French and German ministers said on Tuesday.
“It is once again a wake-up call for all of us in the European Union to ask ourselves how we can strengthen our sovereignty, how we can present a united front even on issues relevant to foreign and security policy,” Germany’s minister for European affairs Michael Roth said, arriving at ministerial talks in Brussels.
The show of solidarity from Germany and the EU’s top officials was welcomed by France, which said the breakdown of trust with Washington strengthened the case for Europe to set its own strategic course.
France’s minister for European affairs Clement Beaune called the row “a European issue” not simply a French one, and that Paris expected support from EU partners.
“I don’t think France is overreacting and I don’t think France should overreact. But when a situation is worrying, is serious, I think it’s also our responsibility to state it very clearly,” he said.
France is furious that the United States, Australia and Britain worked behind its back to negotiate their AUKUS defence pact and replace Canberra’s multi-billion-dollar order of French submarines with US ones.