By Paul LeBlanc, CNN
US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron signaled progress on Thursday in a lingering impasse over the billions of dollars in electric vehicle subsidies included in the sweeping health care, tax and climate bill known as the Inflation Reduction Act that was passed over the summer.
Macron has repeatedly criticized how the measure only applies to electric vehicles manufactured in North America, labeling it protectionist. The Biden administration has stood up a working group with the European Union to address the issue, though the text of the IRA limits the administration’s ability to act.
Both leaders emerged from an Oval Office meeting on Thursday with a renewed sense of momentum to address the sticking points.
Macron, in a joint news conference alongside Biden, praised the working group and said the two leaders agreed they need to “resynchronize our approaches.”
“We also had an excellent discussion on the IRA and the recent pieces of legislation adopted by the American administration and like President Biden just said we agreed to resynchronize our approaches, our agendas in order to invest in critical emerging industries,” the French leader said.
He added: “We share the same vision, and the same willingness. President Biden wishes to create more industrial jobs in the long run for his country and to build a strong industry and to secure your supplies and this is very much our approach as well. And this is the reason we tasked our teams to continue this work in close cooperation (and) coordination to find solutions.”
Biden, meanwhile, said the two leaders had “a detailed discussion of the Inflation Reduction Act,” adding the two “agreed to discuss practical steps to coordinate and align our approaches so that we can strengthen to secure the supply chain manufacturing and innovation on both sides of the Atlantic.”
The US president added that US makes “no apologies” for the Inflation Reduction Act but said there were “some glitches” and changes that may need to be made to the law.
Macron’s stance on the issue underscores a key dynamic of the Biden-Macron relationship: despite the closeness of the relationship and overarching agreement on top global issues, Macron has not been shy about carving out his own space on the global stage — including by pursuing and maintaining backchannel communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin — and publicly disagreeing with Biden at times.
While the pair demonstrated a united front on Thursday in addressing the ongoing war in Ukraine, they offered divergent answers over their willingness to speak with Putin.
Still, at the start of the news conference, Biden called the US and France the “strongest partners and our most capable allies,” taking care to note that “Emmanuel has also become a friend, as well as president of that great country.”
In his opening remarks, Macron similarly praised Biden for fulfilling campaign commitments linked to addressing international challenges, saying “we’re being able to re-engage with you.”
“I can only tell you once again how pleased we were with your choices that very much matched your history and your campaign commitments. The fact that you’re back on international challenges such as health and climate — it is really a New Deal,” the French leader said.
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CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, Maegan Vazquez, Donald Judd, Betsy Klein and Sam Fossum contributed to this report.