sexta-feira, 3 de fevereiro de 2017
EU expresses ‘concern’ over Trump
EU expresses ‘concern’ over Trump
‘There was no sense of anti-Americanism,’ Maltese prime minister says, but the US president dominated Valletta talks.
By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN AND MAÏA DE LA BAUME 2/3/17, 5:43 PM CET Updated 2/4/17, 12:17 AM CET
VALLETTA — Donald Trump may be worried about bad hombres, but EU leaders are worried about the U.S. president’s bad attitude.
At a Friday lunchtime discussion on how to deal with the unpredictable new man in the White House, EU leaders voiced “concern” over actions taken by Trump and also over some of the “attitudes” shown by his administration, according to Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who hosted the summit.
It was a sign of how deeply unsettled and unfamiliar the previously rock-solid relationship between the U.S. and its European allies has become that Muscat felt compelled to note, “There was no sense of anti-Americanism.”
“Obviously there was concern amongst the EU 28 on some decisions that are being taken by the new U.S. administration” — Joseph Muscat
“We had a very open discussion with regards to the developments in our transatlantic partnership, developments in the United States,” Muscat, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said at a news conference with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
“Obviously there was concern amongst the EU 28 on some decisions that are being taken by the new U.S. administration, and also some attitudes that are being adopted,” Muscat said.
It was a clear reference to Trump’s immigration policies, which he imposed unilaterally and without alerting European allies, and despite the fact that he had met with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May hours earlier.
Noting there was no hostility toward Trump or the U.S., Muscat said, “There was a sense we need to engage.” But he added, “We cannot stay silent where principles are involved.”
While officials tried to keep the tone light, and Tusk even joked that he has a new nickname — “our Donald” — there was no disguising how shaken the Europeans seem to be after the first two weeks of Trump’s shock-and-awe presidency.
The meals at EU summits are typically reserved for discussing some of the weightiest and most fraught subjects, such as a dinner discussion in October over the EU’s future relationship with an assertive Russia. Instead, Friday’s focus was on the United States, the country that the EU has regarded as a loyal and protective big brother since the end of World War II.
One senior diplomat from a Central European country said several leaders “had urged restraint and engagement” with Trump during the lunch and that there was no “clear divide between East and West” on the new U.S. administration.
Noting that in recent days May had met with Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the senior diplomat joked darkly that it was “meet your dictator week.”
Many of the leaders were especially eager to hear from May, the only European leader who has met Trump face-to-face since his inauguration.
A U.K. government official said May told the leaders that she tried to impress upon Trump that a strong EU was important to the U.S. May said at the White House that Trump expressed “100 percent” commitment to the NATO alliance.
“With regards to engagement with the USA,” the U.K. official said, “she urged other EU leaders to work patiently and constructively with a friend and ally, an ally who has helped guarantee the longest period of peace this Continent has ever known. She said that the alternative — division and confrontation — would only embolden those who would do us harm, wherever they may be.”
Muscat said Europe would not be shy about expressing its view to Trump. “As in any good relationship we will speak very freely,” he said.
Merkel, at her own news conference after the summit lunch, said the leaders discussed the role they saw for Europe in the world now that the Trump administration had taken office, including a leading role in the development of Africa.
“We once again made very clear what our common values are, made a commitment to multilateralism and also made clear that we want to pursue further free trade agreements as a European Union,” Merkel said. In her understated way, it was a pointed warning to Trump not to try to divide the EU, particularly given reports that trade officials in the Trump administration had reached out to individual EU countries in an bid to explore bilateral agreements.
Merkel said that while there would often be agreement with the U.S. there would clearly be disagreements, including on Trump’s travel ban.
“There will be areas on which we don’t agree,” she said. “I have said repeatedly in the last few days that even the fight against international terrorism doesn’t justify general suspicion against people from a particular country or with a particular religion.”
In keeping with their stated desire to engage Trump, some EU leaders, including Merkel and French President François Hollande, spoke at the lunch about their support for increasing military spending — a clear attempt at outreach by offering to address one of Trump’s loudest criticisms of the European allies.
“Europe must organize its proper defense,” Hollande said. “We must reinforce our capacities,” he added, “put more financial means through a fund, and put in place in the long run a strategic autonomy.”
Pressed about the role of the U.K., as it prepares to leave the EU, Tusk said he expected Britain to form its own relationship with the U.S. and the EU would have to do the same. “We have no illusions,” he said. “In the future, we have to count on the 27 because of an obvious reason, it’s because of Brexit.”
Still, he said that there was a clearly alignment between May’s view and those of the other EU leaders. “I have no doubts also after today’s discussions and what Theresa May said, I have no doubt that today we can feel some kind of spirit of solidarity among 28 member states,” Tusk said.
One sign of the EU’s solidarity was personal. “Maybe the best evidence that we are together in this context was the fact that some of my colleagues used a new nickname for me, spontaneously, which is ‘Our Donald’ compared to the new president of the United States.”
That prompted Muscat to extend the joke, by declaring an architectural shift in Brussels. “And the new Council Building,” he declared, “the Tusk Tower.”
Charlie Cooper, Jacopo Barigazzi and Andrew Gray contributed reporting to this article.
David M. Herszenhorn and Maïa de La Baume