France lobbies EU as trust in US, UK and Australia wanes

France is urging its European Union partners to consider delaying negotiations on a future EU trade agreement with Australia

“It’s a matter of trust,” Beaune told reporters. “When you have your word, it has some value between allies, between democracies, between partners and in this case this word was not respected... so of course it creates a breach of trust.”

“We have to be firm, not as French but as Europeans, because it’s a matter of the way we work together as allies,” he said.

Asked whether France would call a halt to the trade talks with Australia, which have been underway since 2018, Beaune said “that is among the points that we must discuss together.”

The EU’s executive branch, the European Commission, conducts trade talks based on a mandate it receives from the 27 member countries. The commission routinely informs the countries about progress, but they are not directly involved even though they can delay progress.

However, any trade pact must be endorsed unanimously, so individual countries have a veto.

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