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French President Emmanuel Macron, seeking re-sync of U.S.-French relations, says trade concerns are "fixable"

Emmanuel Macron: The 60 Minutes Interview
Emmanuel Macron: The 60 Minutes Interview 13:47

French President Emmanuel Macron traveled to Washington, D.C. this past week for the first state visit of the Biden Administration, and hailed it as a productive meeting between the two historic allies.  But on the eve of his visit, he told 60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker that relations between the historic allies were in need of re-synchronization.

"How have relations been out of sync?" Whitaker asked.  

"I think this administration and President Biden personally is very much attached to Europe," Macron said. "But when you look at the situation today, there is indeed a de-synchronization. Why? Energy. Europe is a gas and oil buyer. The U.S. is a producer. And when you look at the situation, our industries and our households are not buying at the same price. So there is a big gap impacting purchasing power and competitiveness of our societies."

With Russia throttling its natural gas supplies to Europe and the market in turmoil, Europe is buying more from the U.S., but at a price as much as six times what Americans pay. 

"You have said that's not how friends behave," Whitaker said.

"Yeah, we are very much engaged together in this war for the same principles," Macron said. "But the cost of this war is not the same-- on both sides of the Atlantic. And you should-- you should be very aware of that."

President Macron also brought to Washington a strong message about the Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA – new legislation designed to grow green jobs in the U.S. with tax credits for electric cars and clean energy manufacturing in North America.

"The level of subsidies is now two to three times higher in the U.S. than in Europe. We are totally aligned in this conflict. We work hard. And I think if the day after the conflict the result is to have a weaker Europe because a lot of its industry will have been just killed. I do believe it's not the interest of the U.S. administration and even the U.S. society," Macron said.  "I think the main interest is obviously to protect your middle classes, which is a very fair one. I-- I do the same for my country. And it's to be competitive vis-à-vis China. But the result of the recent decision on this momentum, I would say, is it's bad for Europe." 

Macron told Whitaker he raised his concerns about the Inflation Reduction Act with President Joe Biden during two hours of discussion in the Oval Office and Cabinet Room this past Thursday.  

"We had a very good and frank and fruitful discussion," Macron told Whitaker. "What we decided with President Biden is precisely to fix this issue. And they are fixable," Macron said. "My point is to say it was urgent to raise this issue. I did it. It was urgent to discuss in depth about it, which we did this morning together. It's urgent to fix it. We can do it."

Macron, now the senior statesman in Western Europe, said he would tell his European partners that the state visit was a success.  

"Number one, because we did confirm our total alignment on the Ukrainian situation. Second, we had a very fruitful and in-depth discussion on this context IRA and the side effects. And we will fix it on the short run. Third, we had a lot of convergence on climate change, health, security in Africa and a lot of projects," Macron said. "So for me, this is a very good state visit with a lot of very positive outcomes, I can tell you."

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