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UK newspaper: France could offer its UN permanent seat to EU

France's seat at the UN could be given to the European Union to promote the creation of an EU standing force after Australia made it clear that it would be pursuing nuclear technology for its submarines together with the US and UK.

Published: September 22, 2021, 11:00 am

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    France has a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council which could be made “available to the European Union” if bloc members support Emmanuel Macron’s European army project, The Daily Telegraph reported.

    After the AUKUS debacle, France’s only option would be greater military integration with the European Union, the British daily pointed out. The new trilateral security pact (AUKUS) between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom which deep-sixed the Franco-Australian non-nuclear submarine contract, was described by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as a “stab in the back”.

    France even recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia — but not the UK. “With Britain, there is no need. We know their constant opportunism. So there is no need to bring our ambassador back to explain,” Le Drian added. His remarks confirmed that Brexit had removed a major obstacle to building a standing army for Europe in 2020 already.

    France has been the driving force behind the definition of a European Union strategy for the Indo-Pacific – the publication of which, by some unfortunate coincidence, came the day after Australia suddenly announced that it was abandoning the French submarine contract worth €90 billion. France is the only EU member with permanent political and military assets in the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific.

    “What concerns me as well is the American behavior,” le Drian told Franceinfo. “This brutal, unilateral, unpredictable decision looks very much like what Mr. Trump used to do […] Allies don’t do this to each other […] It’s rather insufferable.”

    The new AUKUS alliance between Canberra, London and Washington, has predictably provoked an outcry from the Europeans as it would pave the way for Australia to get its first nuclear-powered submarines, changing the balance of power in the region. China furiously denounced the sharing of nuclear capabilities as irresponsible. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian underscored that the new agreement threatened the stability of the Indo-Pacific.

    In 2018, it was in Australia that French President Emmanuel Macron outlined the French Indo-Pacific strategy as an “Indo-Pacific axis” to include France, India, and Australia to counterbalance the “Quad” – the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, bringing together Australia, India, Japan, and the US against China. Canberra had been reluctant to join the brazen anti-Chinese group at the time, but has since been lured into an aggressive posture.

    Since 2016 – with the supply of 12 French conventional submarines to Australia – the Australians had rejected any idea of nuclear propulsion.

    According to the Telegraph, President Macron will soon become the most important leader of the EU after Angela Merkel’s departure following the German elections on Sunday. “I think that if we move forward on this, we will also be able to put the discussion on the Security Council on the table,” MEP Sandro Gozi, a former Italian Secretary of State for European Affairs, told the daily.

    The EU will shortly be discussing ways to consolidate the defense of the bloc, said European Commission Vice-President Maro Sefcovic. This month the creation of a rapid EU reaction force of 5000 soldiers was proposed after the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan caught the Europeans by surprise.

    The Anglo-sphere views Canberra’s decision as a nostalgic re-emergence of an alliance, but the Afghan fiasco has shown the limits of US commitment despite its huge resources. And Australia has not solved the issue of nuclear fuel for the new submarines yet and there are no companies in Australia who have experience with work on nuclear technology. These nuclear-powered subs could also be 100 percent more expensive than conventional ones. Moreover, this new nuclear dimension has riled its neighbours New Zealand, Indonesia and the Pacific island states.

    These obstacles may have swayed the Morrison government to consider “short-term leasing of nuclear-powered submarines from the UK or the US” which would “not be based in Australia”. This could actually translate into a permanent base for American nuclear subs in Perth and the obvious total loss of Australian sovereignty.

    The bold announcement by the Australians was marked by a surprising lack of consultation. An EU Army would thus be the only realistic security solution in the face of unreliable allies. In response to this development, some pundits have described NATO as an occupying force in the EU that relies on indigenous enforcers, “its command structure being effectively a comprador one”. Most voters in the EU however do not believe that Moscow is really a threat to be repelled by NATO.

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