Analysis of the News “Macron: US-Europe relations are facing desynchronization”

December 2022

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Macron: US-Europe relations are facing desynchronization

The President of the United States and the President of the French Republic met on December 1, 2022, in Washington. This visit reaffirms a relationship based on more than two centuries of friendship, economic partnership, cooperation in the field of defense and security and shared commitment to democratic principles, values and institutions. France is the oldest ally of the United States. Building on their joint statement of October 29, 2021, the leaders outlined a shared vision to strengthen security and increase prosperity worldwide, combat climate change, build greater resilience to its effects, and advance democratic values. This vision is built on a shared belief that the United States and its European allies and partners can better face their common challenges. This includes addressing global issues such as climate change and energy transition, investing in technologies and building resilient value chains in strategic sectors such as health, semiconductors and critical minerals, as well as strengthening security and defense cooperation. Ukraine one of the key topics at the meeting of these two leaders.

Portal Sputnik reports the statement of the French president in which he notes that Europe and the USA are participating in this conflict “in the name of the same principles”.

The Presidents strongly condemn Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine and stress that intentionally targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure constitutes war crimes whose perpetrators must be held accountable. They also condemn and reject Russia’s illegal attempted annexation of sovereign Ukrainian territory, in clear violation of international law. The leaders reaffirmed their nations’ continued support for Ukraine’s defense of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, including the provision of political, security, humanitarian and economic assistance to Ukraine for as long as it takes.

However, despite all the positive statements and alignments, Macron’s visit to Washington was prompted by the passage of Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, a new $369 billion law that offers massive subsidies for US-made products and aims to solve the climate crisis and promote renewable energy.

The President of the United States said that they had a detailed discussion on the Inflation Reduction Act and that  “the United States and Europe share the goal of making bold investments in clean energy to meet the challenges of the climate crisis and to build — and to build the industries of the future, including batteries and green hydrogen. We agreed to discuss practical steps to coordinate and align our approaches so that we can strengthen and secure the supply chains, manufacturing, and innovation on both sides of the Atlantic.”

During their press conference, the media had the opportunity to ask questions. The first question was about the Inflation Reduction Act and was asked by journalist Ms. End from AFP. “You now are saying that you are going to better coordinate, especially your green economic policies. But yesterday, Emmanuel Macron said that the Inflation Reduction Act is, in fact, “super aggressive,” I quote, toward European companies. Does that mean that you are ready to grant exception — exemptions of (inaudible) to European industries? And now my question to you, Mr. President: (Speaks French.) (As interpreted.) Mr. President, will you leave Washington with the assurance that you will be able to deal with these (inaudible)? Do you think there is risk of generating divisions?” President Biden responded that the United States makes no apology and that there’s going to be glitches when you write a massive piece of legislation, in this case almost $368 billion for the largest investment in climate change of all of history. And so, there’s obviously going to be glitches in it and need to reconcile changes in it. “For example, there’s a provision in it that says that there is the exception for anyone has a free trade agreement with us. Well, that was added by a member of the United States Congress who acknowledges that he just meant allies; he didn’t mean, literally, free trade agreement. So, there’s a lot we can work out. But the essence of it is: We’re going to make sure that the United States continues — and just as I hope Europe will be able to continue — not to have to rely on anybody else’s supply chain. We’re — we are our own supply chain, and we share that with Europe and all of our allies. And they will, in fact, have the opportunity to do the same thing. So, there’s tweaks that we can make that can fundamentally make it easier for European countries to participate and/or be on their own. But that is something that is a matter to be worked out.” And he adds that he never intended when he wrote the law to exclude people who were cooperating with the United States of America. “We’re going to continue to create manufacturing jobs in America, but not at the expense of Europe.” President Macron stated that the United States of America adopted a piece of legislation for their country, for their industry with a common objective, goal that we share: creating jobs, creating opportunities for the middle class, and succeeding in implementing the energy transition and that “France simply did not come to ask for an exemption or another for — for our economy but simply to discuss the consequences of this legislation. And the circumstances mean that we have no alternative but to work together. So, therefore, I believe we need to resynchronize, as I say, find a new policy to clarify our goals and continue together. And the discussion we had this morning was extremely clear…And the wish of President Biden is to rebuild a strong industry here and to have somehow to secure some technology solutions for the future. France wishes exactly the same thing for itself… So, we will work on the technical elements to make sure that there is no domino effect on ongoing projects in Europe. We want to succeed together, not one against the other. ”

Portal Sputnik reports the statement of French President Emmanuel Macron in which he points out that the problem of desynchronization is energy. “Europe is a buyer of gas and oil; the USA is a producer. And if you look at the situation, our industry and our households are buying at different prices. Therefore, there is a big gap that affects the purchasing power and competitiveness of our societies.”

In the joint statement after the meeting of Presidents Biden and Macron, we can see that the presidents are satisfied with the success of the American-French Bilateral Clean Energy Partnership, which represents a high-level platform for the improvement of American-French cooperation in the field of energy and climate. In reaffirming their joint determination to further synchronize and deepen cooperation on civil nuclear energy, the United States and France plan to set up a nuclear energy small group within the Partnership’s framework. The Partnership’s priorities also include deepening civilian nuclear cooperation and contributing to a reliable nuclear supply chain, in accordance with the highest standards of nuclear nonproliferation, including the application of IAEA Additional Protocol, and by further reducing reliance on civil nuclear and related goods from Russia. The United States and France continue to promote energy policies, technology, and innovation that enhance renewable energy production and accelerated deployment. They intend to continue to support the diversification of Europe’s natural gas supply, including through U.S. liquefied natural gas exports, as well as to cooperate in reducing overall demand for natural gas in alignment with climate objectives. The Presidents welcome the progress made through the U.S.-EU Task Force on Energy Security to diversify the EU’s natural gas supplies, reducing its cost and limiting its dependence on natural gas.

We can conclude that the relations between the European Union and the United States of America are not as desynchronized as they are actually portrayed by the Russian and Chinese media. Also, Russia has used energy several times as a political and economic weapon against other countries. Russia is no longer a stable and reliable energy supplier. EU member states have taken multiple countermeasures to increase the security of the EU’s energy supply. Despite Russian narratives that no one can guarantee that Europe will survive the winter with the current level of gas reserves, Europe is ready to face this winter. Underground gas reserves in the EU are filled to more than 95% of their capacity, much more than the deadline set on November 1 to reach 80% capacity. This means that with the predicted reduction in gas consumption and filled gas reserves, Europe will not run out of gas this winter. Furthermore, US LNG shipments to Europe have more than doubled over the past year. LNG imports into Europe increased by 65% in the first nine months of last year.

Author: Tanja Plavšić