Both spent the weekend in Rome alone. Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden are scheduled to meet this Friday, October 29, prior to the G20 summit, which will be held the following day in the Italian capital.
A meeting that follows the submarine crisis caused by Australia and France’s breach of contract, which prompted Paris to recall its ambassador to Washington on September 17. This level of tension between the French and Americans was never reached, and it has since been resolved through diplomatic channels.
The two heads of state spoke by phone twice, laying the groundwork for the normalization of relations between Paris and Washington. A standardization that, as seen from the Elysee Palace, starts with a symbolic gesture by Joe Biden.
“This meeting will take place at the French Embassy or in French holdings in Rome, namely the Palazzo Farnese or the Villa Medici,” the Presidency of the Republic specifies, emphasizing the “prestige” of these various Roman addresses under the French flag.
One way to emphasize that “it is President Macron who will receive President Biden’s visit,” rather than the other way around. This is not a detail in a diplomatic world obsessed with the smallest symbol.
The more so because the proposed sites attest to France’s and Europe’s heritage and cultural influence, and it is never futile to recall it after a “betrayal between allies,” to use Jean-Yves Le Drian’s phrase after this major crisis.
The submarine crisis, and, above all, the new chapter in transatlantic relations, will be on the menu of discussions, in addition to climate issues, which will also occupy them during Cop26.
“With a strong emphasis on security and defence issues,” the Élysée emphasizes, referring to the strategic autonomy that the Head of State wants to push through the European Union.
Emmanuel Macron hopes to gain the support of the United States in this endeavour, which includes the development of a Europe of defence. ‘How so?’ Alternatively, what? By taking advantage of a situation that may be favourable to it.
First, by emphasizing that Washington is more willing to turn to the Indo-Pacific zone than to Europe, which may provide an argument for greater security autonomy for the Old Continent.
The second card to play in the United States’ diplomatic weakness since its withdrawal from Afghanistan to the benefit of the Taliban. Finally, leverage the submarine crisis – this “major breach of confidence” – to gain Washington’s support for this project.
A blessing that will be required to persuade European partners to move in this direction as France assumes the presidency of the European Union on January 1. As a result, Elysee believes that the goal of this meeting is to “get everyone to agree on the fact that there is no contradiction between European defence and the Atlantic Alliance.”
At this time, there is no plan for the two heads of state to issue a joint declaration at the conclusion of this meeting.
This Roman meeting, however, should mark the beginning of normalization of relations, which will continue on November 11 and 12 when American Vice President Kamala Harris travels to Paris to attend the Forum on the Peace and discuss “the importance of the transatlantic relationship for peace and security in the world,” according to the White House. Once again, Emmanuel Macron will be the recipient. Also at home.