`With Friends Like These:' EU's Tusk Blasts Trump's Europe View

Casey Dawson
May 17, 2018

European Council President Donald Tusk called here on Wednesday for a united European front against the United States withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Tusk's remarks, just hours before he was to chair a meeting in Bulgaria of the 28 leaders of the world's biggest trading bloc, underscored the widening gulf in EU-U.S. relations. But Europeans are increasingly exasperated by the way Trump is steering US policy, objecting not only to his stances but also to what they say is erratic policymaking that switches on the whim of Fox News programmers.

Trade tensions have been growing since March 23, when Donald Trump ordered to introduce a 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% tax on aluminum, claiming to protect the U.S. producers from unfair competition and boost national security.

The U.S. move has paved the way for U.S. sanctions that are likely to hit European companies doing business with Iran.The options being discussed include new credit lines for Iran, increased energy cooperation and the use of EU laws to block European companies from caving in to U.S. sanctions.

EU President Donald Tusk said the leaders in Sofia would "reflect on recent global developments, in particular following President Trump's announcements on Iran and trade as well as the latest, dramatic events in Gaza".

"I would like our debate to reconfirm without any doubt that as long as Iran respects the provisions of the deal, the European Union will also respect it", Tusk said.

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"Here again, unity is our greatest strength and my objective is simple - we stick to our guns".

"The broader US-EU security relationship is at risk", a former US envoy to the EU, Anthony Gardner, told the European Parliament on Wednesday.

The European Commission is refusing to open talks on wider trade terms with the USA, including import tariffs on cars - a bugbear of the United States president - until it receives a permanent exemption from punitive taxes on European steel and aluminium. Therefore US tariffs can not be justified on the basis of national security. It is absurd to even think that Europe could be a threat to the United States. "We need to bring back reality in this discussion, which is not the case today". But at the news conference in Sofia, he was clearly not in any joking mood.

"Besides traditional political challenges, such as the rise of China or the aggressive stance of Russian Federation, we are witnessing today a new phenomenon - the capricious assertiveness of the USA administration", Tusk said. He darkly thanked Trump for delivering a healthy reality-check to European Union countries - historically America's closest allies since the end the Second World War.

Speaking to reporters in Sofia, Mr Tusk said the US President had "made us realise that if you need a helping hand, you all find one at the end of your arm".

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