This is one of the thorniest issues to be tackled between Paris and Washington. On the first day of his three-day state visit to the United StatesWednesday, November 30, Emmanuel Macron castigated the subsidies provided for in Joe Biden’s big climate plan, which favor products “made in USA” against goods imported from Europe and France.
“It’s super aggressive for our companies”, declared Mr. Macron, during a lunch on climate issues and biodiversity organized at the Congress. The French head of state was referring to the massive support program for the energy transition wanted by the American president, called the “Inflation Reduction Act” (IRA). The latter aims to grant generous subsidies to companies producing in particular electric vehicles, batteries or renewable energies, provided that they are manufactured on American territory.
Risk of “destroying many jobs”
” Put yourself in my place ““ no one contacted me when the IRA was in discussion”, pleaded the French president, asking to be “respected as a good friend”. “I have a middle class [qui doit] work and people who need to find work. And the consequence of the IRA is that you may fix your problem, but you’ll make mine worse. I’m sorry to be so blunt.”he added, referring to the difficult economic situation in Europe, against a backdrop of war in Ukraine, galloping inflation and the energy crisis.
The law which will come into force on 1er January 2023 raises fears in Paris and Brussels of a large wave of industrial relocations. Emmanuel Macron thus warned American elected officials and President Biden against the risk of “destroy many jobs” if there is no coordination between Europe and the United States. Mr. Biden intends in particular to boost the electric vehicle sector, with a view to both boosting industrial employment, energy transition and technological competition with China.
If the French President has said that he “didn’t believe for a second” to an American volte-face on this legislation deemed crucial by the White House, he therefore pleaded for better synchronization between the United States and Europe.
In the evening, he reiterated his concerns during a speech to the French community at the French Embassy in Washington: “The risk is that, faced with the challenges of the time, the United States will first look at the United States, that’s normal (…) and then look at the rivalry with China, and, in a way, that Europe and France become a sort of adjustment variable”. “The choices made, whose objectives I share, in particular the IRA, are choices that will fragment the West”he added.
In Washington, it is considered that this Inflation Reduction Act will be a project “win-win” likely to stimulate the European economy as well.
“Vital ally for the United States”, according to Kamala Harris
The state visit of Emmanuel Macron, the first foreign leader to whom Joe Biden reserves this diplomatic honor, began on a more polite tone. The vice-president, Kamala Harris, had greeted in France a “vital ally for the United States”during a meeting at NASA headquarters, and a cooperation “based on democratic principles and shared values”.
After his frank exchange with the elected members of Congress, the head of state then went to Arlington National Cemetery, where he laid a wreath on the tomb of the unknown soldier but also a white rose on the tomb of Pierre Charles L’Enfant, the French architect who designed the plans for the American capital.
In front of the French community at the French Embassy, Emmanuel Macron estimated that his second state visit to the United States, after that of 2018, ” show[ait] also the strength, the bond between the United States and France”. He pleaded for “to try together to live up to what History has sealed between us, an alliance stronger than anything”.
He must then have dinner with his wife Brigitte Macron with Joe and Jill Biden. A meal intended to be intimate, far from the formal pomp that the White House will deploy on Thursday for the French president, between cannon shots, meeting in the Oval office and gala dinner.