'With friends like these': EU chief tears into Trump

GettyImages-688913198

GettyImages-688913198

Council president Donald Tusk urged leaders meeting in Bulgaria to form a "united European front" against Trump's withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal and his move to impose trade tariffs on Europe. He also suggested the European Union owes Trump a debt of gratitude for helping Europe to drop "all illusions".

European leaders sought unity on Wednesday toward threatened USA import tariffs on steel and aluminium, balancing the views of those most fearful of a trade war and those determined not to be bullied into concessions.

The European Union's top official launched a stinging attack Wednesday (16 May) on President Donald Trump, slamming his "capricious assertiveness" and saying the U.S. leader acted more like an enemy than a friend.

An EU source said after the dinner the 28 EU leaders agreed that, in exchange for permanent exemptions, they could discuss with Washington deeper LNG cooperation, a WTO reform and better access to each other's markets for cars and public procurement.

Tusk spoke about the Iran nuclear deal in further detail while also outlining a few other issues he had with the current leader of the United States in his prepared remarks.

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.

European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker was due to present options to protect European investment, which could include retaliatory sanctions, allowing the European Investment Bank to invest in Iran, and coordinating euro-denominated credit lines from European governments.

"Looking at the latest decisions of President Trump someone could even think: with friends like that who needs enemies".

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Convinced that the USA move breaks global trade rules, the European Union has drawn up a list of "rebalancing" duties worth some 2.8 billion euros (US$3.4 billion) to impose on USA products if it is not permanently exempt.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the decision of United States president Donald "clumsy". Tusk said he wanted Europe to "stick to our guns" and described Trump's justification of tariffs on the basis of national security as "absurd".

"The question is whether you can talk better if you terminate an agreement or if you stay in it. we say you can talk better if you remain in it", she told the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.

"The extra-territorial dimension of USA sanctions is unacceptable".

In order to protect European Union companies from USA extraterritorial sanctions, they agreed to modernise the so-called blocking statute, a 1996 regulation that prevents companies to recognise certain non-EU jurisdictions decisions.

The EU's top energy official, Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete, is heading to Iran on May 18-21 for talks on energy cooperation, a symbolic gesture from the EU that it wants to stay engaged despite the USA withdrawal. This decision led to clashes between Palestinians and Israeli military in the Gaza strip, during which killed 59 people, reminiscent of "Bagnet".

Tusk said he wanted the European leaders to "reconfirm" that they will stay in the Iran deal, as long as Tehran respects it - although Europe must now find a way to make up for the United States sanctions on Iran that Trump will reactivate.

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