A top European Union official slammed President Trump as selfish and unpredictable Wednesday as EU leaders gathered to measure the economic damage US policies could inflict on their countries and try to salvage the Iran nuclear deal.
“Someone could even think, with friends like that, who needs enemies?” EU Council President Donald Tusk said.
“Frankly speaking, Europe should be grateful to President Trump because thanks to him we have got rid of all illusions. He has made us realize that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm,” he added.
Trump bewildered the Europeans by threatening to slap tariffs on EU steel and aluminum exports and reneging on an agreement to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, which the EU believes is vital to world security.
The president had also broken with a key international principle of Middle East peace efforts by moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
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-US relations on Trump’s watch.
Listing Europe’s traditional challenges, ranging from the expanding power of China to the belligerence of Russia, Tusk said: “We are witnessing today a new phenomenon, the capricious assertiveness of the American administration.”
In dinner talks in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, EU leaders will be briefed on possible incentives to keep Tehran in the nuclear agreement, even after the US pulled out.
Team Trump’s move also paved the way for US sanctions that are likely to hit European companies that do business with Iran.
“I want leaders to reconfirm that the EU sticks to the deal as long as Iran does. The deal is good for European and global security,” said Tusk.
The leaders will also discuss Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, which could be slapped on the EU after June 1.
Trump said the tariffs are needed for national security reasons. The Europeans, most of them US allies in NATO, scoffed, saying they posed no security threat and that it is simply an excuse to break with the rules-based order of the World Trade Organization.
“It is absurd to even think that the EU could be a threat to the US. We need to bring back reality in this discussion,” Tusk said.
Meanwhile, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel is calling for an international investigation into Israel’s deadly crackdown on protesters who tried to force their way over the Gaza fence at the urging og Hamas, which left about 60 dead and more than 2,500 wounded or injured.
“It’s a moment that sends a shiver down your spine. Because there is a striking contrast between, on the one hand, an inauguration in great splendor, with smiles, and on the other hand, the drama, and families today that are in mourning with innocent children who are the victims of this situation,” Michel told state broadcaster RTBF.
“We knew that there was a great risk, that this decision to move moving the embassy would bring less security, bring tragedies, and sadly we were right,” he said.