Wednesday, 28 Oct 2020

EU snub: Emmanuel Macron ‘to copy Brexit Britain with Indo-Pacific pivot’

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on Mr Macron to give ground on fisheries, warning the French president that Britain will have to walk away from Brexit talks if he does not budge. The Prime Minister and Mr Macron spoke on the telephone on Saturday with seemingly just days to go for an agreement on a future trade settlement to be struck. Mr Johnson told the key EU leader he would “explore every avenue” to secure a deal, but was prepared to leave the Brexit transition period at the end of the year on Australian-style terms with Brussels if necessary.

France is a leading member of the “coastal eight” group, which is said to be digging in hardest in talks, insisting that EU countries should maintain exactly the same rights to fish in British waters.

One senior Government source told the Sunday Times the position was “ludicrous”.

But some British officials are said to think Mr Macron might prefer to blame the UK for the failure of negotiations than force his fishermen to accept reduced quotas.

As the clock ticks down and tensions are set to rise in the incoming days, former US diplomat Tony Corn claimed Mr Macron’s strategy in Europe will soon drastically change.

Mr Corn argued the French President is going to strengthen the French-British “entente cordiale” while continuing to turn away from “Europe’s sandbox politics” and towards the Indo-Pacific region.

He wrote: “Since his flamboyant Europeanist speech at the Sorbonne in October 2017, Macron’s juvenile enthusiasm for the European Project has significantly cooled.

“While Macron’s disenchantment with the European Project is in sync with French public opinion, his growing interest in the Indo-Pacific is in sync with the rapidly evolving geopolitical environment.”

Mr Corn continued: “On the economic front, the idea of expanding the G7 has been around in transatlantic circles as far back as 2014, and began to gain traction with the institutionalisation of the Indo-Pacific Quad in 2017.

Nowadays, Paris, London, and Washington appear to be on the same page regarding the need to turn the G7 into a G10 including India, Australia, and South Korea.

“On the military front, the idea of a Global NATO, in one form or another, has been around for longer still. In the wake of Putin’s speech at the 2007 Munich Security Conference, most US analysts wrongly concluded that the main challenge facing the West was a resurgent Russia. In transatlantic circles today, by contrast, China is the new Russia.

“It is of course too early to tell what will come out of the modern-day Harmel Group currently redesigning the new Strategic Concept of the Atlantic alliance. Some observers are calling for the creation of a NATO-China Council; others are in favour of better coordination between the Euro-Atlantic Quad (US, UK, France, Germany) and the more recent Indo-Pacific Quad (US, Japan, India, Australia); others still favour what would essentially amount to a reinvention of SEATO in the form of a full-fledged IPTO (Indo-Pacific Treaty Organisation).

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“Like the famous Harmel Report of 1967, the new Strategic Concept is likely to advocate a combination of containment and engagement. But one thing is sure: compared to the Cold War era, the maritime dimension this time round will be more important than the land component. In that respect, one interesting question is whether Britain’s legitimate interest in taking the leadership of a maritime version of the Framework Nation Concept will lead to greater cooperation, or competition, or even confrontation, with France.”

Mr Corn noted that one thing is certain and that is that over the past decade, the world has entered an era of rivalry between China and the West in which the European dimension is no longer relevant.

For when all is said and done, Europe is no more an optimal zone in military affairs than in monetary matters, he added.

He concluded for his piece on BriefingsforBritain: “On the monetary front, the future rival of the dollar as a reserve currency is bound to be the Chinese renminbi, not the euro whose international position has steadily declined since the 2008 financial crisis.

“On the military front, the Chinese navy, which produces every four years a number of ships equivalent to the entire French navy, has been regularly cruising in Mediterranean waters for more than a decade, and is reportedly eyeing the Mers El-Kebir naval base once occupied by France and then by the Soviet Union.

“So much for the idea of European strategic autonomy on the maritime front.

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“If the Atlantic alliance did not exist, it would have to be invented.

“And if the Alliance had become ‘brain dead’, as Macron asserted, well – it would simply have to be reinvented.”

Earlier this summer, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced Britain would have pressed ahead with a bid to join a major trade tie-up between countries including Canada, Australia and New Zealand after leaving the EU.

According to The Times, Ms Truss said that the partnership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is the “next logical step” for post-Brexit Britain.

She added: “I say to our old friends, Britain is back.”

The CPTPP is a high-quality free trade agreement which binds together Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Mexico, Malaysia, Peru, Chile and Brunei.

It covers nearly 14 percent of the global economy.

If the UK were to join the partnership, this share of global GDP is expected to rise to about 16 percent.

Australia and Japan have already informally pledged their support for British membership and others are unlikely to raise major objections.

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