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Thursday, May 17, 2018

European Union attacks Trump's "capricious" policies

Por Nina

The head of the Council, representing the Member States in Brussels, was the leader who most forcefully charged Trump shortly after he took office. Tusk then defined it as an "external threat" to the EU. More than a year later, when some of those fears have materialized, Tusk has wanted to recover the belligerence to raise the tone of the meeting held on Wednesday in Bulgaria by the heads of state and government of the EU. On the table were two conflicts initiated by Washington: the exit of the nuclear pact and the threat of imposing tariffs on European steel.

First was the praise of Brexit. Later was the exit of the climate agreement that the EU strongly encouraged. But the threat of commercial war and the abandonment of nuclear peace, forged by the international community for 12 years, are a clear warning that Europe must get used to living without having the United States on its side. The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk has charged directly against Donald Trump. He has done it through his Twitter account, in which he has written "With friends like that, who wants enemies?”

The tweet from Tusk is an excerpt from his press appearance on Thursday, prior to the summit of European Heads of State and Government in Sofia (Bulgaria). The Polish leader has also thrown irony to mess with Trump. According to him, the EU should be "grateful", because thanks to the US president "we have got rid of all illusions". For Tusk, the greatest lesson of the relationship with Trump is to have realized that "if we need a helping hand, we will find one at the end of our arm". During the press conference, the president of the European Council criticized the "capricious" attitude of the US administration and urged the EU to "prepare" for scenarios in which it may not have support.

On the other hand, he has sent a message to the heads of state of the union, as he has said that "Europe must do everything in its power to protect transatlantic ties," despite the attitude of Trump and although "it has to act alone." "To put it simply: either we are united or we will not be anything at all," summed up Tusk, which alludes to the need for cohesion in the economic, political and military spheres of the EU countries, a bloc that loses strength before powers like Russia or China. The words of Tusk arrive days after those of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who pointed out that "Europe can no longer expect the United States protect them from conflicts" and those of French President Emmanuel Macron, who said: "let's not be weak, do not divide, do not be afraid, do not wait, let's act ", saying that the EU can not let "others decide for us".

Tusk's comments allude to two controversial Trump decisions: one, Washington's departure from the nuclear pact officially named Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPOA) signed by Iran and the 5 + 1 Group (USA, The United Kingdom, France, Russia and China, plus Germany) and, the other, the threat of imposing tariffs on European products. On the nuclear agreement, the other signatories harshly criticized the US withdrawal of the agreement and reaffirmed their support for the agreement, since it is not a bilateral document. And faced with possible tariffs, the EU countries have promised a similar response, in fact, they have announced that they will impose tariffs of 25% on various US imports and have warned the White House that they will denounce this matter before the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Relations between the US and the EU have worsened since Trump's arrival in the White House due to commercial disputes, the decision to withdraw the US of the nuclear agreement with Iran and the climate pact in Paris, and the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. That’s why the United States results in the main topic of discussion at the dinner of leaders, prior to the summit of the Balkans that takes place this Thursday in Sofia. To refine the strategy to save the nuclear pact, the college of curators discussed in the morning in Brussels a sketch of possible community remedies. The president of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the head of European diplomacy, Federica Mogherini, have begun to concretize them on Wednesday, in particular the protection of European companies that invest in Iran and that may be harmed by extraterritorial sanctions that Washington will apply after his departure from the pact.

But the case of Total, the European company with the most visibility in Iran after the lifting of sanctions in 2015, evidences the difficulty of this exercise. The oil company has announced on Wednesday that it may be forced to abandon a large gas field in the Middle East giant as a result of US punishment. "Our media are there. We will use them, but they are limited,"Juncker admitted at a press conference from Brussels. At his side, the Secretary General of the UN, António Guterres, added: "I can only express my wish that the European measures succeed." The United Nations endorsed the nuclear pact with Iran, signed by the members of the Security Council (United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom) together with Germany and the EU. More pressing than the Iranian chapter is the trade war between Washington and Brussels, which can be reactivated in two weeks. Next June 1 the temporary exemption granted by Trump to Europe to continue selling steel and aluminum without the announced penalty (25% and 10% respectively) expires. "Also here, unity is our main strength," the European Council leader warned, aware that Germany's biggest exposure to this commercial punishment is cracking Brussels' common position.