French submarines: the highlights of an international crisis

French submarines: the highlights of an international crisis

Before the meeting on Friday (July 1) in Paris between French President Emmanuel Macron and the new Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, a reminder of the highlights of the international crisis triggered by the termination in 2021 by Canberra of a gigantic money delivery contract – French sailors.

A contract worth 56 billion euros

France and Australia sign on December 20, 2016 a gigantic contract of 56 billion euros for the supply of 12 conventional submarines, derived from the future French nuclear submarines Barracuda, which commits the two States for the next fifty years.

Objective: to start manufacturing submarines in 2022, for a first launch in 2030.

The submarines are to be built in Adelaide and the French industrialist Naval Group is committed to 60% of the contract value being spent in Australia, creating around 2,800 jobs there, according to Canberra.

Naval Group under Australian criticism

In February 2021, the CEO of Naval Group traveled to Adelaide to try to calm emerging tensions around the contract. The public group is under fire from critics in Australia where there are fears of additional costs.

At the beginning of June, the Australian Ministry of Defense brandished the threat of a “plan B” in the event of failure of negotiations on the next phase of the contract.

A few days later, Emmanuel Macron reaffirms ” full commitment of France to go through with the contract, by receiving Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Elysée Palace.

Australia breaks the contract

On September 15, 2021, Mr. Morrison announced that his country would acquire nuclear-powered submarines as part of a new partnership with the United States and the United Kingdom, which canceled the French contract. Paris denounces a blow in the back “.

The White House ensures that France and the United States had high-level contacts before the announcement of the security pact – called AUKUS – between Washington, Canberra and London. An assertion rejected by Paris.

On September 17, France recalls its ambassadors to Canberra and Washington, an unprecedented gesture. The next day, the head of French diplomacy Jean-Yves Le Drian evokes ” a major breach of trust ” and an ” serious crisis “.

To justify its decision, Australia says it had ” serious reservations about French submarines. On September 20, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, judges “ unacceptable the way France was treated.

MM. Biden and Macron explain themselves

Presidents Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden agree over the phone, Sept. 22, that “ open consultations among allies “would have” allowed to avoid this diplomatic crisis. Mr. Macron announces the return to Washington of the French ambassador.

The Australian Prime Minister promises to be patient to restore relations with France.

Long-planned negotiations on a possible free trade agreement between Australia and the European Union have been postponed.

The French ambassador to Australia will return to Canberra, Paris announced on October 6.

“Lie” and Mr. Morrison’s failure in the election

On October 28, Mr. Macron spoke with Scott Morrison for the first time since the start of the crisis. On November 1, he assures “ to know that the Australian Prime Minister lied to him in this matter.

Australia officially joins the AUKUS defense alliance on November 22.

Mr. Macron and the new Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese want “ rebuild a relationship ” of ” trust “, Indicates the Elysée on May 26, 2022, the day after Scott Morrison’s defeat in the legislative elections.

Compensation agreement

On June 11, Australia unveils a 555 million euro compensation agreement with Naval Group, which confirms a ” fair deal “.

In total, the failure of the French submarine contract will have cost 2.4 billion dollars to Australian taxpayers, specifies Anthony Albanese.

France, through the Minister of the Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu, believes that this agreement allows ” to open a new page in the relationship with Canberra.


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