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POLITICS

Ukraine and EVs: What Macron and Biden will discuss in Washington

French leader Emmanuel Macron is in Washington - with several of his ministers - on an official state visit, but some of his discussions with US president Joe Biden could be tricky - here's what the two will talk about.

Ukraine and EVs: What Macron and Biden will discuss in Washington
US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP)

Macron is hoping his US state visit can produce meaningful concessions for European industry as it smarts from massive US green subsidies – but the chances of a major win look slim, according to a Joe Biden ally, Senator Chris Coons.

Coons, a Democratic Senator for Delaware and leader of the Congressional French Caucus, talked to AFP about the French president’s visit and goals.

President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act offers generous support to US industry, such as subsidies for US-made electric vehicles, batteries and renewable energy projects, as part of a push to address climate change. Can Macron obtain exemptions for European industries to share in the huge US market, including EU-made electric cars?

Sen Coons: “I think this is an important but difficult conversation. We passed in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) the single largest investment in a clean energy transition in the history of the United States, and some would argue the largest investment by any country.”

However, Coons explained, the bill was only barely approved by Congress, and the provision on the manufacturing of electric vehicles in North America was “very important” to Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, whose vote was crucial in passing it.

Still, can France make any inroads on this?

Sen Coons: “It will be a delicate negotiation; my state benefits immensely from French investments.”

Both aircraft manufacturer Dassault Falcon and industrial gas producer Air Liquide are in Delaware.

“It is our hope that we will find a path forward where we will increase technology transfer and foreign direct investment by the United States and American companies in France and by French companies in the United States.

“I’m expecting that this conversation about IRA and subsidies for electric vehicles will be on the agenda for the conversation between our two
presidents.”

“The war in Ukraine will also be discussed by Macron and Biden. Is the United States pushing for a negotiated end?”

Sen Coons: “No. I think it was important that President Zelensky recently indicated of course he is open to negotiating. He laid out the terms, which were the restoration of Ukrainian sovereignty and security guarantees, that strike me as reasonable. “

“If we were to pressure Zelensky into surrendering territory, I don’t see how that would either deter (President Vladimir) Putin, make Ukraine more safe or produce a stable outcome.”

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POLITICS

British PM promises ‘new impetus’ to French ties

Britain's Prime Minister Keir Starmer promised on Thursday to bring a "new impetus" to ties with France and to work with Paris to oppose Russia's invasion of Ukraine and end migrant-trafficking across the Channel.

British PM promises 'new impetus' to French ties

Starmer was to meet France’s President Emmanuel Macron later in the day for one-to-one talks on the sidelines of the European Political Community summit in Blenheim Palace, near Oxford.

In a piece published in French newspaper Le Monde to mark the meeting, the new British premier acknowledged Britain is no longer one of France’s EU partners, since the previous government left the union.

But, Starmer wrote, 120 years after the Entente Cordiale agreements resolving colonial disputes between Paris and London, “we are still bound by many things”, citing the G7 group, UN Security Council and NATO.

And he recalled the key role Britain and France have played as European military and economic powers in resisting Russia.

“I never thought, in my lifetime, that I would hear the rumble of war echoing across Europe. I never thought a leader would choose such an absurd and destructive path,” Starmer wrote.

“And yet, Russian President Vladimir Putin made this choice. Our determination to face it must never waver.”

Freshly elected at the head of a Labour Party government with a large House of Commons majority, Starmer also addressed the issue of cross-Channel migration, which has hurt ties in the recent past.

As prime minister, Starmer has already abandoned his predecessor’s efforts to expel asylum-seekers arriving in Britain by boat to Rwanda, but is still seeking a way to slow arrivals from France.

“A veritable criminal empire is today at work throughout Europe. It profits from human misery and despair, sending countless innocent people to their deaths in the waters of the English Channel,” he said.

“For me, this problem is no longer a challenge, it is a crisis. We will therefore work with France and with all our European partners to resolve it,” he wrote, vowing that Britain would respect international law.

The former senior lawyer stressed that Britain would continue to respect the European Convention on Human Rights, which the previous government had considered quitting.

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