Brussels (Brussels Morning) The long-awaited first meeting of the US-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC), scheduled for Wednesday, will likely result in a watered-down joint declaration focusing on mitigating short-term chip shortages, France having opposed an initial, more ambitious draft declaration.
At the outset, the meeting was envisaged to be a significant step in repairing the US-EU relationship, following the turbulent four years of Donald Trump presidency. More recently, that was overtaken and overshadowed by the severe fallout in Franco-American relations after France lost a lucrative submarine production deal with Australia to the US and the UK.
Even as relations between Washington and Paris appeared to be improving, with President Emmanuel Macron announcing he would return the French ambassador to the US after having recalled him for consultations, France maintained a cool stance towards the first scheduled TTC meeting, calling for it to be postponed.
Macron was reportedly furious with the US after Australia joined the AUKUS pact, a trilateral military partnership between Canberra, London and Washington, which will see Australia’s submarine fleet upgraded with modern nuclear attack submarines, which are to be produced with aid from the UK and the US.
The deal meant Australia would be scrapping its 50 billion dollar contract for the production of 12 conventional attack submarines, which was signed with the French Naval Group shipyard in 2016. At the time, France hailed the deal as a great partnership between the two countries. Subsequently, Macron was more than upset that he was neither consulted nor informed about Australia’s plans walk away from the deal and replace it with AUKUS, a move he denounced as an act of betrayal by countries previously perceived as close allies.
The first TTC meeting was planned to discuss chip shortages, artificial intelligence and tech competition issues, but the most recent draft conclusions, seen by Bloomberg, limited the scope to merely discussing short-term semiconductor supply chain issues. Reportedly, at least one EU member-state is complaining that the draft is getting weaker with each iteration.