Angela Merkel: EU Cannot Completely Rely on U.S. and Britain Any More by Jon Henly: The Guardian | World | Europe - May 29, 2017
Speaking after bruising meetings of Nato and the G7 group of wealthy nations last week, the German chancellor suggested the postwar western alliance had been badly undermined by the UK’s Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election as US president.
“The times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over,” she told an election rally in Munich on Sunday. “I’ve experienced that in the last few days. We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands.”
The chancellor told a 2,500-strong crowd in the Bavarian capital that Germany and Europe would naturally strive to remain on good terms with the US, Britain and other countries, “even with Russia”, but added: “We have to know that we must fight for our future on our own, for our destiny as Europeans.”
The two-day G7 summit in Italy pitted the US president – whom Merkel did not mention by name – against the leaders of Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Japan on several issues.
The leaders vowed to fight protectionism, reiterating a “commitment to keep our markets open”; step up pressure on North Korea; cooperate more closely on terrorism; and look into placing tougher sanctions on Russia.
But while six of the seven renewed their commitment to the 2015 Paris accord on climate change, Trump said he needed more time to decide.
During his election campaign, Trump frequently questioned the value of the EU, welcomed Britain’s vote to leave the bloc and spoke positively of anti-EU politicians such as the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
Merkel said the result of the talks, which she described as “six against one”, was “very difficult, if not to say very unsatisfactory”. Trump was more positive on Twitter, saying: “Just returned from Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!”
At the Nato summit in Brussels on Thursday, Trump repeated past accusations that other members of the alliance were failing to match America’s military spending commitment of 2% of GDP, saying this was “not fair” on US taxpayers.
He failed to endorse the pact’s article five mutual defence clause – an omission seen as especially striking as he was unveiling a memorial to those killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the US, the only time it has been triggered.
The US president reportedly described German trade practices as “bad, very bad” in separate talks in Brussels and complained that Germany, Europe’s largest economy, sells too many cars to the US.
By contrast, Merkel said she wished the new French president, Emmanuel Macron, every success and promised Germany would do what it could to help France in a bid to revive the ailing Franco-German engine that long powered Europe.
“Where Germany can help, Germany will help,” she said to loud applause, “because Germany can only do well if Europe is doing well.”
Responding to Merkel’s plea for EU unity, likely to be significant in view of Britain’s upcoming Brexit negotiations with the EU27, the Liberal Democrats said they were the “inevitable outcome” of Theresa May’s decision to position herself closeley with Trump.
“The prime minister has allied herself with Donald Trump and these comments are the inevitable outcome,” Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said. “It doesn’t have to be this way; a vote for the Liberal Democrats can change Britain’s future.”
Merkel, who faces a delicate balancing act in seeking to preserve the transatlantic alliance while campaigning for re-election, was unusually blunt in her assessment Trump’s refusal to commit on climate change – a key concern for many German voters.
Polls show the chancellor, in power since 2005, is on course to be re-elected for a fourth term in September, with her lead in the polls over a revived Social Democrat opposition widening to double digits.
The Paris accords were “not just any old agreement, but a central agreement for shaping globalisation,” the German chancellor said, stressing that there were at present “no signs of whether the US will stay in the Paris accords or not”.
Macron, however, was more optimistic about the relationship with Trump. “I met a leader who has strong convictions on a number of subjects, some of which I share, such as terrorism or upholding our rank in the league of nations,” the French president said.
“It was a first experience for both of us and he saw the interest of a multilateral discussion.” Macron added that the two days of wrangling represented “progress”, and refusing to enter into a “logic of six against one”.
“It’s not in our interest,” he said. “There are disagreements around the table. There was one at this point on climate, but I hope we’ll reduce that gap. Mr Trump is a pragmatist and I’m hopeful that once he considers all the arguments we made and in the interests of his country he will confirm his commitment.”