With friends like Trump, who needs enemies?: EU's Tusk

Wednesday, 16 May, 2018

European Council President Donald Tusk on Wednesday castigated President Donald Trump and the actions he's taken to withdraw from both the Paris Climate Agreement and Iran nuclear deal, saying, "with friends like that who needs enemies?"

The 28 anxious EU leaders are gathering in the Bulgarian capital for discussions over dinner on Wednesday on how to salvage the nuclear deal and European business dealings with Iran from Trump's sanctions and how to avoid a trade war in an escalating tariff dispute with the United States.

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".

Mr. Tusk called on the European leaders of the countries that signed the agreement - like Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain, Ms. Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron of France, who tried but failed to talk Mr. Trump into not scrapping the deal - to reconfirm their commitment to the accord.

Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel have resolved to stick with the joint comprehensive plan of action with Iran, despite the threats of USA sanctions against European businesses.

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 United States producers from unfair competition and boost national security. This is the only real alternative. To put it simply: either we are together, or we will not be at all. He also suggested the European Union owes Trump a debt of gratitude for helping Europe to drop "all illusions". "We realize that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm", Tusk said in Sofia, also posting the comments in a Tweet tagging the USA president. "But at the same time we must be prepared for those scenarios where we have to act on our own".

The EU has called for "utmost restraint" after Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinians during clashes and protests along the Gaza border against the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, the conflict's bloodiest day in years.

But the EU's hopes have been complicated by the fact that European companies would also be exposed to USA sanctions imposed on anyone doing business in Iran.

It was crucial, he said, that the European Union stuck to its guns and refused to talk trade with the U.S. until it received a permanent exemption from punitive tariffs on steel and aluminium imposed by Washington on the grounds of national security. Donald Tusk told reporters ahead the EU leaders' agenda dinner for the EU-Western Balkans summit set for Thursday in Sofia, Bulgaria. Therefore US tariffs can not be justified on the basis of national security. "We need to bring back reality in this discussion, which is not the case today".