Aukus: the French minister deplores the lack of confidence in the British alliance

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The Franco-British alliance lacks confidence, the French Minister for European Affairs said, citing Downing Street’s approach to post-Brexit deals for Northern Ireland and the defense deal secretly negotiated with the United States. United and Australia.

Clément Beaune, a close ally of French President Emmanuel Macron, said that while the two problematic issues were not to be mixed up, they together highlighted the rift in the relationship.

“We have to restore confidence, we have to discuss together – we are not in this context at the moment,” Beaune said, ahead of a meeting of EU affairs ministers and Brexit Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič in Brussels.

During a visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, Boris Johnson insisted on Monday evening that the alliance with Paris remained strong and “absolutely vital”, adding: “Our love for France is ineradicable “.

But a Franco-British defense meeting scheduled to take place this week was canceled by Paris in the fallout of the Aukus Defense Pact, and there has not been a bilateral leaders’ summit for three years, despite attempts. of Downing Street to organize one.

Beaune admitted that it was necessary to restore trust in the relationship. On Brexit, he said the UK was not implementing the agreements it had reached on fishing rights for EU vessels or on controls on goods traveling to Northern Ireland from the UK. rest of UK.

“They are not well implemented… they are not fully respected,” he said.

During the surprise announcement last week of a defense agreement between the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, at an estimated cost to the French government of 56 billion euros in a sub contract -seaman lost with Canberra, Beaune lamented that he was “hidden” in Paris by Non dix.

“It is not personally the Prime Minister. I will not go into comments on the Prime Minister himself. It is a relationship between two governments, two allies, two close partners, which will last, ”he said.

“But we see when we look at the Brexit agreements, which are not well implemented, which are not fully respected; we see it with the Aukus project, there were things hidden. It is not the best context to have trust between us but we will move on.

Beaune doubled down on Paris’ claims that the UK was the “fifth wheel” of the Aukus Defense Pact – and in a state of “vassalage” to the White House.

He said: “The main responsibility was on Australia, breaking contracts, and on the US, probably putting the pressure on, and the UK chose after we offered on several occasions, including in negotiations on Brexit, to have discussions on how we can organize our cooperation in matters of security or defense… this has been systematically refused by the United Kingdom.

“While the UK has decided to go alongside the US, I think in a way that is, I made it clear, sort of a junior partner… So far the UK -Uni refused to commit to safety … maybe that will change. ”

Beaune insisted that the French government had not overreacted to the announcement of the defense cooperation agreement last week, but that Paris was leading discussions in Brussels on how the development would affect trade negotiations with Australia.

“We cannot pretend that there is no problem,” he said.

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