September 17, 2021
The “contract of the century”, as they had called it. It would have been worth some 56 billion euros to France and 12 diesel-electric powered submarines to Australia built by the French Naval Group. Macron had personally committed himself to the successful conclusion of the negotiations, ensuring a “full and complete” commitment until June. But Canberra eventually withdrew, for a “free and open Indo-Pacific” preferred to sign an agreement with the US and Great Britain called “Aukus” whose main step will be the supply of nuclear-powered submarines. Ultimately, to face the Chinese threat, Australia has chosen to rely on Washington and London rather than on a weak and wavering Europe, compromised in heavily dependent relations with Beijing despite the not very credible proclamations of Von der Leyen. The Franco-Australian contract should have been one of the pillars of the new EU strategic plan for the Indo-Pacific presented absurdly yesterday by a displaced Josep Borrell (High Representative for Foreign Policy), finally forced to recognize that Europe must “Carry out a reflection on its strategic autonomy”. Moreover, Britain has already achieved autonomy from the moment it said goodbye to Brussels: it is no coincidence that the coup de grace to the French contract came from Boris Johnson.