WASHINGTON (AP) — Presidents Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron are celebrating the long relationship between the United States and France, but these are friends with differences. The French president is taking advantage of his visit to Washington to harshly criticize aspects of the climate law signed by the US president as bad business for Europe.
Biden is ready to honor Macron with the first state dinner of his presidency Thursday night. First, the two leaders will sit in the Oval Office for morning talks that officials on both sides said were expected to focus largely on the leaders’ efforts to stick together in their response to Russia’s war in Ukraine. and coordinate their approach towards an assertive China.
But ahead of Thursday’s meeting, Macron made clear that he and other European leaders remain deeply concerned about incentives in a sweeping new climate-related law that favors American-made climate technology, including electric vehicles.
Macron on Wednesday criticized the legislation, known as the Inflation Reduction Law, during a lunch with US lawmakers and again during a speech at the French embassy. The French president said that while the Biden administration’s efforts to curb climate change should be applauded, the subsidies would be a huge setback for European companies.
“The elections that have been made… are elections that will fragment the West,” Macron said at the French embassy. He added that the legislation “creates such differences between the United States of America and Europe, that everyone who works in many companies (in the US. The Atlantic. ‘”
Separately, at lunch with members of congress from both parties, along with business leaders and diplomats, Macron said major industrialized nations must do more to tackle climate change and promote biodiversity.
He criticized an agreement reached in a recent climate summit in egypt in which the United States and other rich nations agreed to help pay for the damage that an overheated world is inflicting on poor countries. The deal includes few details on how it will be paid for, and Macron said a more comprehensive approach is needed: “we don’t just decide on a new fund that won’t be funded and even if it is funded, won’t be allocated correctly. ″
Speaking after his prepared remarks and without cameras present, Macron took aim at the Inflation Reduction Law and called the subsidies harmful to French companies and others in Europe, according to a person at the closed-door meeting. The person requested anonymity to discuss Macron’s private comments.
The European Union has raised concerns that tax credits in climate law, including those intended to encourage Americans to buy electric vehicles, would discriminate against European producers and violate World Trade Organization rules.
German Finance Minister Robert Habeck reiterated on Wednesday that he believes parts of the law are not WTO-compatible.
“I think this view is shared to a large extent by those countries that are committed to a multilateral trade order,” he told reporters in Berlin. “The Americans know that we see it that way and the European Commission will have told them too.”
Macron had planned to make his case to US officials against the subsidies, stressing that it is crucial that “Europe, like America, emerge stronger…not weaker” as the world emerges from the turmoil of the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. according to a senior French government official who briefed journalists on condition of anonymity to preview the private conversations.
Biden administration officials have responded that the legislation goes a long way toward helping the US meet global goals to curb climate change. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre argued Wednesday that the legislation will also bring new opportunities for French and other companies in Europe.
“There are a number of provisions that will contribute to the growth of the clean energy sector globally,” Jean-Pierre told reporters. “It presents significant opportunities for European companies, as well as benefits for the EU’s energy security. And this is not a zero-sum game for us.”
Macron’s latest blunt comments come after he drew attention earlier this month in a speech at a summit in Bangkok. He referred to the US and China as “two big elephants” that are about to create “a big problem for the rest of the jungle.” His visit also comes as both Washington and Paris are watching China after protests broke out last weekend in various mainland cities and Hong Kong on Beijing’s “zero COVID” strategy.
“The issue of China will be high on the agenda for the next several days,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday.
Macron met Vice President Kamala Harris at NASA headquarters in Washington on Wednesday as the two sides sought to highlight US-French cooperation in space. In June, France signed the Artemis Accords, a NASA-led set of principles used to govern the international civil use of space. The same month, the US made good on its promise to join the French-led Space Climate Observatory, which is meant to model and track climate change.
Macron also made a stop at the Arlington Cemetery. He and his wife, Brigitte, later had a private dinner with Biden and first lady Jill Biden at a restaurant in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington.
In addition to his Oval Office chat with Biden on Thursday, Macron will be hosted by Harris for lunch at the State Department before the evening’s state dinner for some 350 guests, a glitzy gala to be held in a huge tent pavilion built in the White Garden to the south of the house.
Grammy Award winner Jon Batiste is scheduled to provide the evening’s entertainment.