Trump overshadows EU summit as Merkel says ‘Europe has its own destiny in its hands’

Bloomberg reports: U.S. President Donald Trump loomed over a Mediterranean gathering of European leaders, who used the meeting Friday to hit back at the new administration that has upended trans-Atlantic relations by dismissing the European Union’s validity.

“It is unacceptable that there be, through a certain number of statements by the president of the United States, a pressure on what Europe must be or what it must not be,” French President Francois Hollande told reporters Friday at the EU summit in Valletta, Malta.

As the EU grapples with the region’s biggest migration crisis since World War II, Britain’s impending exit and how to hold the group together in an increasingly uncertain world, several leaders showed themselves annoyed by the new U.S. president’s biting remarks about the viability of the EU project, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.

Laying bare the tensions, Ted Malloch, who says he’s been interviewed for the role of U.S. ambassador to the EU, lashed out at the 28-member bloc in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Friday. Following Trump’s lead, he encouraged other member states to hold referendums similar to the U.K., which voted last year to leave the bloc.

The EU “is an overly complex fairly bloated bureaucratic organization,” Malloch said. “Its ambitions have basically overstepped its capabilities, so the question really is what the European member states want to see for that European Union.”

As the presidents and prime ministers filed into the Grand Master’s Palace in the capital Valletta for their first meeting, German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck a calmer tone, urging the leaders to more forcefully tackle the EU’s problems in defining any new relationship with the U.S.

“Europe has its own destiny in its hands,” Merkel told reporters. “The clearer we are, how we define our role in the world, the better we can maintain our trans-Atlantic relationship.” [Continue reading…]

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