Merkel urges Europe to stay united in face of uncertainty from allies US and Britain
German Chancellor Angela Merkel offers tough review in the wake of Trump’s trip to visit EU, Nato and Group of Seven leaders last week
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged European Union nations to stick together in the face of emerging policy divisions with the US, Britain’s decision to leave the bloc and other challenges.
Speaking at a campaign event held in a Bavarian beer tent, Merkel suggested that the G7 summit in Italy that ended Saturday had served as something of a wakeup call. G7 leaders were unable to reach unanimous agreement on climate change after US President Donald Trump said he needed more time to decide whether to back a key climate accord.
“The times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days,” Merkel told the crowd of some 2,500 that gathered to hear her and Bavarian governor Horst Seehofer.
“And so all I can say is that we Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands,” she said, according to the dpa news agency.
It was a stark declaration from the leader of Europe’s most powerful economy, and a grim take on the transatlantic ties that have underpinned Western security in the generations since the second world war.
Merkel emphasised the need for continued friendly relations with the US and Britain and also stressed the importance of being good neighbours “wherever that is possible, including with Russia, but also with others.”
Despite the Trump administration’s talk of an “America first” policy and ongoing criticism of Germany for its massive trade surplus, the G7 leaders in Sicily did vow to fight protectionism, reiterating “a commitment to keep our markets open.”
They also agreed to step up pressure on North Korea, to forge closer cooperation in the fight against terrorism, on the possibility of imposing more sanctions on Russia over role in the conflict in Ukraine.
But while six of the seven G7 nations agreed to stick with their commitment to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement that aims to slow global warming, Trump said he needed more time to decide if the US would abandon the accord.
Watch: Trump lauds trip abroad as challenges await
His administration has argued that US emissions standards are tougher than those set by China, India and others, and therefore have put American businesses at a disadvantage.
After the summit, Merkel called the climate talks “very difficult, if not to say, very unsatisfactory”.
Merkel’s comments were similar to some she made shortly after Trump’s November election. But they carry extra heft now that Trump is actually in office - and after Trump had a days-long opportunity to reset relations with Washington’s closest allies. Instead, by most European accounts he strained them even more.
Trump - who returned from his nine-day international trip on Saturday - had a different take.
“Just returned from Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!” Trump wrote on Sunday, reviving a prolific Twitter habit that had slackened during his days on the road.
Additional reporting by The Washington Post