Top leaders of the European Union on Monday, September 20 bluntly accused U.S. President Joe Biden of disloyalty to the transatlantic alliance, and demanded he explain why he misled France and other European partners in forging a new strategic alliance with the U.K. and Australia in the Indo-Pacific.
The extraordinary rebuke of the new American president by the EU comes 8 months after European leaders were happy with Biden’s presidential win seeing it as an opportunity to rejuvenate ties after the four years of disagreements with Donald Trump.
“With the new Joe Biden administration, America is back,” European Council President Charles Michel told reporters in New York, as world leaders convened for the high-level debate of the U.N. General Assembly.
“What does it mean America is back? Is America back in America or somewhere else? We don’t know.”
By failing to consult EU nations about the new Indo-Pacific strategy, where Australia canceled a billion dollar contract to buy French submarines in favour of better nuclear submarines from the US and UK, Michel said Biden had discarded an agreement reached by leaders after many hours of talks at the G7 summit in Britain in June to remain united in confronting authoritarian regimes, particularly China.
“The elementary principles for an alliance are loyalty and transparency,” Michel said, adding: “We are observing a clear lack of transparency and loyalty.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her own rebuke of Biden called the treatment of France “unacceptable” and demanded Biden provide an explanation.
“There are a lot of open questions that have to be answered,” von der Leyen said to CNN.
“One of our member states has been treated in a way that is not acceptable, so we want to know what happened and why. And therefore you first clarify that before you keep going with business as usual.”
Michel said that the 27 EU heads of state and government would discuss the rift with the U.S. over dinner on October 5 in Slovenia, ahead of a summit focused on the Western Balkans.
By supporting French President Emmanuel Macron who still has said nothing publicly about the US rift and is not attending the U.N. meetings Michel and von der Leyen seemed to elevate the risk of a m dispute that could be exploited by China and Russia.
Michel insisted the feud should not be viewed as a matter of French economic interests, but as part of a pattern of disregard for European allies and their interests by the past four U.S. presidents.
“Obama with charisma, very polished, took important decisions in Syria with negative consequences for Europe, and we could observe also a lack of coordination, of consultation between the United States and European governments,” Michel said. “At least with Donald Trump it was very, very clear that he was not in favor of the European integration, that for him Europe doesn’t matter, but it was clear.”
“When the transatlantic alliance is less robust and less solid, this is not good for the security in Europe and everywhere in the world,” Michel said, adding: “This is more than a bilateral trade or industrial topic. It’s more than that.”
Arriving in New York City on Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said all EU countries should be worried about the disregard the U.S. had shown its allies.
“Europeans shouldn’t be the rejects of the strategy chosen by the United States,” Le Drian said. “We are in this new state of mind, which means the Europeans need to identify their own strategic issues and to have a discussion with the United States on this topic.”