A European Parliament trade official says Australia’s cancellation of a French submarine contract will complicate and delay negotiations on an Australian-European Union free trade deal
Australia’s decision to end the 90 billion Australian dollar ($66 billion) deal was “kind of an attack against European interests,” said Bernd Lange, a German lawmaker and the chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade.
“It is more complicated,” Lange told Australian Broadcasting Corp. of the negotiations following the French snub.
“The question of trust is now occurring and some members could ask for more safety nets and more safeguards in such an agreement, so I guess the dialogue and the negotiation will take more time,” Lange added.
“It is a question of how serious and how reliable Australia is. Therefore there’s a discussion how to deal now with the trade agreement, but I guess there is no clear commitment to stop the negotiation,” Lange said.
“Now the trust is missing,” he added.
France responded by recalling its ambassadors from the United States and Australia.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian declared on Monday that there was a “crisis of trust” in the United States.
Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan said he could “see no reason why those discussions won’t continue.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison continued to deny French claims that they only became aware of the nuclear submarine deal the day it was announced.
“It would be naive to think that a decision of this nature was not going to cause disappointment, obviously, to the French. We understand that. We totally acknowledge that,” Morrison told reporters in New York City ahead of a meeting with Biden and the leaders of India and Japan who make up the Quad security forum.
“It was not possible for us to be able to discuss such secure issues in relation to our dealings with other countries at that time. We have made it very clear, I had made it very clear, that a conventional submarine would no longer be meeting our strategic interests and what we needed those boats to do. That had been communicated very clearly many months ago,” Morrison added.