Aukus: European Union asks Australia for apologies for France’s treatment ahead of trade negotiations | Australia News

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The European Union demands answers – and an apology from Australia – over its treatment of France as fallout from the Aukus announcement threatens to delay a key trade deal.

Australia’s hopes for a free trade deal with the European Union have run into rough waters with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen demanding that Australia explain its conduct in favor of France, an EU member state.

The Morrison government announced that it was canceling its $ 90 billion submarine contract with the French and entering into a “permanent partnership” with the United States and the United Kingdom under a new agreement known as Aukus’ name at the end of last week.

The French claimed to have been “blinded” by the announcement. Despite attempts to quell diplomatic wrangling, the French recalled their ambassador and called on the EU to reconsider Australia’s involvement in a free trade agreement with the EU.

While trade talks with Australia are expected to continue as planned, von der Leyen said Australia has some explaining to do first.

“One of our member states has been treated in a way that is not acceptable, so we want to know what happened and why,” von der Leyen said in an interview with CNN.

“Therefore, you clarify this first, before continuing as usual.”

The chairman of the European Parliament‘s Committee on International Trade, Bernd Lange, continued this theme in an interview with the ABC on Tuesday.

“This is really an unpleasant situation that France is facing,” he said, adding that he expected to see “some kind of apology, a kind of de-escalation of the situation, from from the Australian government “to help” a better understanding “. ”.

“The question of trust is now raised, and some members might ask for more safety nets, more guarantees,” he said.

European leaders will meet in New York to discuss the response to the cancellation of the French agreement in favor of the Aukus Pact. US President Joe Biden has requested talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in an attempt to restore relations. The French have agreed to a telephone conversation in the coming days.

Scott Morrison, who is in New York City ahead of his first meeting with Biden, said there was “no opportunity at the moment” to speak to Macron.

“I am sure this opportunity will come with time,” he said from New York. “At the moment I understand the disappointment and they are working on the consultations with the return of their ambassador to Paris and we will be patient with that.”

Morrison said he was comforted by comments from European Commission foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell of “not mixing apples and pears” last week, regarding Australia’s involvement in the EU Free Trade Agreement.

“I think that’s a pretty good summary of the situation,” he said.

“I mean, these issues will be resolved in the weeks and months to come. It is not an easy thing to do, to get an agreement with the European Union on trade, I think everyone understands that.

As French anger continues to simmer, Australian diplomats have worked overtime to reassure Australia’s partners in the Indo-Pacific that the Aukus deal will not affect the region.

Morrison spoke to Indonesian President Joko Widodo as he traveled to New York to “assure him of Indonesia’s main areas of interest”, including that Australia “would meet all of our obligations in under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime. And that the Aukus Agreement “would contribute to peace and stability and a strategic balance in the region”. Australia will send a team to Indonesia to release further information on what the new strategic agreement will mean.

The phone call came on the back of the Australian Ambassador to ASEAN sending a statement to the countries of South East Asia reiterating Australia’s commitment to the ASEAN goals, while recalling that Aukus was not “an alliance or a defense pact”.


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