Senior officials concerned about the future under a new American doctrine in which there are ‘no friends, only enemies’
Donald Trump has been accused by the European Union of pioneering a new American doctrine in which there are “no friends, only enemies”.
Ahead of what is set to be a stormy Nato summit next week – and with EU leaders gathering in Brussels to discuss a developing transatlantic trade war among other issues – the bloc’s most senior officials expressed deep anxiety about the future.
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The European Council’s president, Donald Tusk, said the EU had to now prepare for the worst due to the policies of Trump’s White House. Tusk is planning to engage in a discussion with the leaders of the 28 member states on Thursday.
Given the impending trade war, a US decision to renege on the Iran deal and the Paris climate change pact, and the repeated attack on European allies for underspending on defence, there are concerns in Brussels over the long-term stability of the relationship. Indeed it is feared that the US change in attitude could outlast Trump’s presidency.
There is also concern among British officials in Westminster over Trump’s foreign policy, particularly his impending meeting with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. A senior Kremlin aide said on Wednesday that a time and location for the summit had been agreed and would be announced on Thursday.
In a pre-summit invitation letter to the leaders of EU countries, Tusk wrote that “trans-Atlantic relations are under immense pressure due to the policies of President Trump”.
A senior EU official added: “We are more and more concerned that these are not just incidents, it starts to look like a pattern. The pattern of an American doctrine in which there are no friends only enemies.”
The US has slapped punitive tariffs on EU steel and aluminium on grounds of national security. The EU has hit back with “rebalancing measures” that hit around €2.8bn ($3.25bn) worth of American-made products.
Trump has, in turn, warned in recent days that a study into the allegedly skewed trading relationship on cars, in which German manufacturers are said to have an advantage, will soon be published.
The US president previously suggested that he would like to effectively ban the sale of Mercedes-Benz, Audi and other German cars.
Tusk said, however, in his letter to leaders before the two day summit in Brussels that “unfortunately, the divisions go beyond trade”.
He said: “It is my belief that, while hoping for the best, we must be ready to prepare our Union for worst-case scenarios.”
Earlier this month, Trump launched an unprecedented attack on Angela Merkel’s government, tweeting that “the people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition”.
With Brussels seeking to find a consensus among its members on how to deal with migration from Africa and elsewhere, Tusk writes: “There are voices in Europe and around the world claiming that our inefficiency in maintaining the external border is an inherent feature of the European Union, or – more broadly – of liberal democracy.
“We have seen the creation of new political movements, which offer simple answers to the most complicated questions. Simple, radical and attractive. The migration crisis provides them with a growing number of arguments.
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“More and more people are starting to believe that only strong-handed authority, anti-European and anti-liberal in spirit, with a tendency towards overt authoritarianism, is capable of stopping the wave of illegal migration.”
“If people believe them, that only they can offer an effective solution to the migration crisis, they will also believe anything else they say. The stakes are very high. And time is short.”
The European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, has been formally invited to Washington DC to discuss trading relations, although a spokesman in Brussels said a date had yet to be fixed. Trump called Juncker “brutal” during a recent G7 meeting, where the US president appeared determined to isolate himself from his western allies.