Europe after the G7 debacle

The G7 summit in Canada end in a debacle when following his departure US President Donald Trump announced via Twitter that he was backing out of a joint communique on fair trade. He cited Canada's introduction of counter-tariffs as one reason for this decision. Europe's press asks whether the Continent is in a position to assert its independence from the US.

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Blog Pitsirikos (GR) /

Trump forcing Germany to rethink its stance

In reaction to Trump's behaviour at the G7 summit, German Chancellor Merkel called in a TV interview on Sunday for a strong, united Europe. Blogger Pitsirikos sees a ray of hope:

“No sooner has a stronger player than German entered the fray than the weaknesses of Germany and the EU have become apparent. As strange as it may seem, Trump's economic protectionism could be advantageous for the European Union. ... Germany gets a slap in the face from the US and realizes that it needs the other countries of the European Union to be able to react. ... I think that we can all see a change in Germany's attitude. Trump is working wonders: he can even save the European Union.”

Wpolityce.pl (PL) /

Merkel and Macron are windbags

Europe can't end its dependency on the US, wPolityce.pl explains:

“Contrary to what Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron say (both want to counter the US's increasingly uncomfortable hegemony and become less dependent on America) there is no real alternative to the transatlantic connection. ... The EU may be the biggest trade bloc in the world, but geopolitically it doesn't have much clout. Nor is there any other major power with which the Europeans share enough interests for it to replace the US. China and Russia are currently not an option. ... The US continues to be the guarantee for Europe's security. ... So all Merkel's and Macron's talk about retaliation and independence are nothing but hot air.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

West is too rich, too old and too timid

The West is projecting a terrible image of itself, Le Figaro concludes:

“The most striking thing about this G7 summit is the inability of the Western leaders to think strategically. ... Caught up in their petty economic disputes, the Europeans and North Americans seem incapable of opening their eyes to the big issues of war and peace. Who is still counting on them to stem the world's ethnic and religious conflicts? Everything indicates that these Western countries, children of the consumer society, have become too rich, too old, too timid, to look the truly important issues - which are always religious, social, cultural and ideological - in the eye.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

The answer to Trump is the TTIP

Trump's demand that the G7 abolish all tariffs and subsidies among themselves should be taken seriously, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung explains:

“There are more than enough reasons to see Trump's proposal as a cheap diversionary manoeuvre that isn't seriously intended. But it would be a pity to reject the idea completely. What is going on right now is extremely dangerous, protectionist and threatens to culminate in a trade war. ... [The G7] would do well to remember the advantages of a comprehensive, plurilateral free trade agreement in its own circle. ... An appropriate framework for this already exists. It's called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP for short.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Self-assuredly lower tariffs

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung goes even further and recommends lowering the tariffs, not as a concession to Trump but because it's more advantageous in the long term - and would be pretty much risk-free with cars:

“American industry doesn't have any models that are selling like hotcakes anyway. If they can't come up with any other good arguments the proponents of a hard line will fall back on a last argument: according to the international rules what Europe gives the Americans it cannot withhold from others, for example the Japanese. So what? In a few years' time the tariffs will be dropped here too, and the same could be done with the Americans. ... The Europeans wouldn't be sacrificing anything to Trump. They would simply be self-assuredly doing something which they're always saying benefits all sides anyway.”

Financial Times (GB) /

New alliances without the US

What is needed now are new trade agreements without the US, the Financial Times believes:

“The G6 and other like-minded countries must band together whenever possible to resist protectionism, attempt to bypass Mr Trump by signing trade deals that exclude the US and keep the apparatus of global co-operation as functional as they can for when sanity hopefully returns to the White House. This weekend showed a world in disarray, where America has abdicated its responsibilities. The rest of the globe should draw consequences.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Outrage won't help

De Morgen examines why Trump's critics haven't come up with an effective response:

“For their part the Americans who elected Trump see Trudeau and Merkel as idiots and can't get enough of the tweets in which their great leader, ensconced in Air Force One, writes off the other Western leaders as naive tree-huggers. ... More than a year after he was sworn into office Trump has further perfected his skills in making American voters like him, entertaining them and making them proud. His opponents outside the US may have perfected their outrage, but the countermovement hasn't progressed much further than that up to now.”