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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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STRIKES

French unions announce new strike dates in battle against pension reform

After a second day in which more than a million people took to the streets of France to protest over planned pension reform, unions have announced further strike days.

French unions announce new strike dates in battle against pension reform

France’s eight main trades unions federations made a joint announcement on Tuesday night of fresh strike days – Tuesday, February 7th and Saturday, February 11th. 

Tuesday marks the day that the highly controversial pension reform – which includes raising the pension age from 62 to 64 – is presented to the French parliament for the first time.

Both days are likely to see significant disruption, particularly on public transport.

The mass strike on Tuesday saw trains and city public transport services heavily disrupted, while many schools closed as teachers walked out.

Demos held in towns and cities across France saw a huge turnout – more than 1.1 million people, an increase on the turnout on the first day of pension strikes.

READ ALSO ‘We won’t stop until Macron is defeated’ say French pension demonstrators

You can find all the latest news on strikes and service disruptions in our strike section HERE.

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