France notes the decision just announced by the Australian Government of the halting of the ocean-class Future Submarine Programme [FSP] and the launch of cooperation with the United States regarding nuclear-powered submarines.
This decision is contrary to the letter and spirit of the cooperation which prevailed between France and Australia, based not only on a relationship of political trust but also the development of a very high-level defence industrial and technological base in Australia.
The American decision, which leads to the exclusion of a European ally and partner like France from a crucial partnership with Australia at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, be it over our values or respect for a multilateralism based on the rule of law, signals a lack of consistency which France can only notice and regret.
With the Joint Communication on Europe’s strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region being published today, France confirms its desire for very ambitious action in that region aimed at maintaining “freedom of sovereignty” for all. As the only European nation present in the Indo-Pacific, with nearly two million of its nationals and more than 7,000 military personnel, France is a reliable partner which will continue to honour its commitments there, as it has always done.
The regrettable decision just announced on the FSP only heightens the need to raise loud and clear the issue of European strategic autonomy. There is no other credible path for defending our interests and values around the world, including in the Indo-Pacific region.