Bitter leaders of the European Union met in the Bulgarian capital Sofia on Wednesday to powwow on how to rescue the nuclear deal and European business dealings with Iran from Trump’s sanctions and avoid a trade war in an escalating tariff dispute with the US.
Ahead of the meeting, the European Union chairman, the namesake of the US president, Donald Tusk said the EU must unite to deal with what he called Trump’s “capricious assertiveness”.
“With friends like that, who needs enemies?” Tusk told a news conference.
“Europe should be grateful to President Trump, because thanks to him we have got rid of all illusions,” Tusk stated as quoted by Reuters. “He has made us realise that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm.”
EU leaders are deeply troubled by Trump’s “America first” rhetoric and inconsistent statements on NATO and the EU.
“Europe must do everything in its power to protect, in spite of today’s mood, the transatlantic bond. But at the same time we must be prepared for those scenarios, where we will have to act on our own,” said Tusk, a former Polish prime minister.
Trump’s moving of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem this week has also upset many in Europe, though the EU has failed to condemn the move squarely due to opposition from the Czech Republic and Hungary, which are strongly pro-Israel.
Looking at latest decisions of @realDonaldTrump someone could even think: with friends like that who needs enemies. But frankly, EU should be grateful. Thanks to him we got rid of all illusions. We realise that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm.
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) May 16, 2018
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, though remaining strongly in support of trans-Atlantic relations, backed efforts to develop a collective European approach towards Trump’s unilateralism.
Earlier, Trump has lambasted his European peers for not spending enough on defence, raising doubts among many in Europe about his commitment to NATO and Europe’s broader security.
“The broader U.S.-EU security relationship is at risk,” a former U.S. envoy to the EU, Anthony Gardner, told the European Parliament on Wednesday.