An EU official said on Friday that a scheduled round of trade negotiations between the European Union and Australia has been postponed by a month, in a move that comes amid Brussels’ anger over Canberra’s cancellation of a huge contract to buy submarines from France.
“The round of negotiations on the free trade agreement has been postponed for a month, until November,” the official said.
The Australian submarine crisis erupted last September 15, after US President Joe Biden announced the birth of a new defense alliance between the United States, Britain and Australia, one of the first fruits of which was the expansion of the technology of American nuclear-powered submarines to include Australia.
In order to obtain these American submarines operating with nuclear propulsion, Australia abruptly canceled a huge contract it had concluded with France to buy 12 conventional submarines, which angered Paris.
Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan was scheduled to travel to Europe to participate in this twelfth round of trade negotiations.
In a statement, the Australian minister played down the importance of Brussels’ decision to postpone the negotiating round.
“We understand the French reaction to our decision regarding submarines, but in the end every country must act in its national interest, and this is what Australia did,” Tehan said.
The Australian minister indicated that he intends to meet with EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis next week to discuss trade negotiations between the two parties.
“We will continue to prepare for the twelfth round of negotiations and work towards concluding a free trade agreement that is in the interest of both Australia and the European Union,” he added.
In Brussels, EU spokeswoman Miriam Garcia Ferrer stressed that “a one-month delay will also allow us to better prepare”.
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