Baie de Carbis (United Kingdom) (AFP)
Emmanuel Macron put his arm around Joe Biden’s shoulders when they first met on Friday at the G7 summit in Cornwall.
But the warm gesture and chatter has masked the French president’s frustration with a series of problems, as his American counterpart prepares to wage a series of global battles.
The two men are due to meet for a bilateral meeting in the seaside resort of Carbis Bay in southwest England on Saturday morning, according to the Elysee.
Officials said their first beach talks were about improving the lives of the middle class and confronting China “while standing up for our interests and values.”
Macron, however, was upset by Biden’s attempt to put the United States at the center of global efforts to tackle climate change, tax multinationals, deal with Russia, and donate vaccines.
The reason: He has been pushing the same issues since even before Biden was elected – and France has had to deal with the consequences of the United States under Donald Trump.
– My idea –
On Thursday, Macron said he was cautiously satisfied with Washington’s foreign policy reversals, especially on the United States’ relationship with the European Union.
Last month, the Biden administration backed a minimum 15% tax on multinationals, leading to the landmark G7 finance ministers’ agreement last week.
The French president called it “a massive step towards a fairer globalization”, but he was quick to point out that he had been beating the drum for such a step for four years.
And, in the absence of any deal, France unilaterally imposed a tax on tech giants, prompting Trump to retaliate.
“I think of our wine growers and of many companies, sometimes small ones, which, in the last two years, had to pay the American backlash because we introduced a digital tax,” he said.
“That’s how it happened, let’s not forget. “
– The American “blockade” –
Macron also cautiously greeted Biden’s announcement on Thursday that the United States would donate 500 million doses of Covid vaccines to the poorest countries.
The EU has promised to give 100 million doses, including 30 million from France.
“If it’s 500 million doses by the end of 2021, that’s great news and the EU needs to match that announcement,” he said.
But he added: “If it’s by 2022, it’s not the same. “
And he made no secret of his skepticism about the US proposal to waive intellectual property on time-limited vaccines, as he himself has only accepted a temporary suspension.
“I’m waiting to see the exact US proposal,” Macron said, adding, “I don’t think the United States will ever propose to lift IP in perpetuity.
“I can more or less guarantee that because it means the end of innovation in your country almost immediately. “
Macron also denounced what he called the “American blockade” on the export of material preventing the manufacture of vaccines abroad, which he hoped to see lifted during the G7.
He called on the labs – almost all of them American – to donate 10 percent of the doses they sell.
– Baffled –
Macron also praised Biden’s announcement of a summit with Russian Vladimir Putin, albeit by gritting his teeth, given the criticism he has faced for wanting to reach out to the Kremlin.
“I have always advocated dialogue,” he said. “I am sometimes astonished that those who think that France is wrong to speak say that the United States is right to speak.
“But sometimes there are things in life that escape me. ”
And he asked the Americans, as he also did with Trump, to clarify NATO’s objectives, especially vis-à-vis China.
Going further, as a NATO summit looms on Monday where he will meet Biden again, he pleaded for European military autonomy.
For that to happen, “we need enough European countries that have a full army model, like France,” he said, in another pointed message to Washington.
The Europeans had to “take responsibility for the control of arms on their soil”.
© 2021 AFP