The postponement of trade talks between the European Union and Australia has raised fears in Canberra that a rift with France over the ditched submarine contract could slow down the push for closer economic ties. The EU confirmed reports on Friday that the 12th round of negotiations – originally scheduled for October – had been delayed until November. The opposition Labor party cited the development as proof Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, had “failed to do the diplomatic leg work required to manage the relationship with our French partners”.
The one-month delay emerged amid a rift over the Morrison government’s decision to walk away from a $90bn contract to deliver submarines in favour of a nuclear-powered option with the US and the UK. Paris has complained that it had been misled or “lied” to just hours before the decision was revealed.