France has recalled its ambassadors from US and Australia for consultations as a new Anglo-American alliance with Australia thrown in, takes root, leaving Paris and the European Union in the lurch. The new trilateral alliance christened AUKUS contains only English-speaking countries—a point rubbed in by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, triggering the historic rivalry in Europe between London and Paris.
The immediate trigger of the ambassadorial recall is the cancellation of a $40 billion French submarine deal with Australia.
In return, French President Emmanuel Macron took the exceptional decision of recalling ambassadors due to the “gravity of the announcements on September 15 by Australia and the United States”, said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in a statement, as reported by France 24.
The announcement represented “unacceptable behaviour between allies and partners”, the statement said. In 2016 the French Naval Group had signed a contract to build 12 conventionally powered submarines, based on France's Barracuda nuclear-powered subs in development.
But the fallout of the formation of AUKUS goes beyond commercial loss. It drives a deep wedge between France and the European Union on one side, with the US, Britain and Australia on the other side of the fence. A virtual split in the Atlantic Alliance formed at the back of World War 2, also mirrors new geopolitical realities. Instead of the Atlantic , the global centre of gravity has moved to the Indo-Pacific. Besides, AUKUS, a military alliance, shows that in containing the rise of China, it is English speaking Christian countries who trust each other the most.
Where does the new trilateral alliance leave France and the European Union (EU)?
Unsurprisingly an orphaned European Union has been caught flat-footed by the AUKUS move.
The formation of AUKUS clearly undermines a broader European strategy, backed by France for collectively boosting economic, political and defence ties in the region, including India, China, Japan and New Zealand.
On Thursday, the EU unveiled its plan for the Indo-Pacific. But formation of the AUKUS headlines deflated the grouping’s initiative.