US ‘wants to untie itself’ from world, European Commission chief warns
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has stated that Donald Trump’s efforts to “untie” America from “international connections” make it hard for Europe to stay on good terms with Washington, pushing the EU “closer” to China.
“Now that there are signs that the US wants to untie itself from international connections, the relationship with China is becoming more and more important,” Juncker told Politico on Thursday, a day before the EU-China summit.
“I am not very happy with the idea that we might now work even more closely with China than we are able to do with the Americans,” he said just hours before Trump was expected to announce his decision to pull the US out of the 2015 Paris accord on climate change.
“This does not fit into my old worldview.”
Juncker said on Thursday in Berlin he hoped Washington would stick with the Paris accord, adding that it’s impossible to pull out of the agreement “overnight.”
Juncker described recent “statements of the American president” as “partly worrying.”
“We must continue the conversation with the new administration, despite all the difficulties. The annoyance of the moment must not detract from the necessity of a permanent dialogue with the United States,” he told Politico.
“We must try to keep the transatlantic relationship in a good condition,” he added.
Juncker said he had held his own in talks with Trump, noting that “a Luxembourger is not afraid of an American.”
Trump raised many eyebrows on Thursday when he decided to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change, causing an outcry from Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, who signed the landmark deal.
Kevin Lewis, Obama’s spokesman, released a statement, criticizing the decision as a job killer.
“The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created,” Obama said in the statement. “I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack.”
US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), called the decision a “devastating failure of historic proportions.”
The head of the European Commission told German Bild am Sonntag newspaper last month that EU-US relations are at historic lows because of the policies of the new Republican president.
Interactions between the US and Europe “have entered a sort of a [period of] estrangement,” Juncker told the newspaper.
The European Commission president slammed Trump’s approach to relations with Europe as ridiculous. The fact that Trump welcomes Brexit and urges other states to follow suit shows that he has “an uncanny approach” towards relations with the EU, he said, adding, that this situation “requires intensive negotiations.”
Both China and the EU are sending the world a clear signal that there can be “no backsliding” on the Paris climate pact, Juncker said Friday as he opened trade and climate talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Brussels.
“Our joint leadership provides business, investors and researchers both in Europe and China and throughout the world the certainty they need to build a global low carbon economy,” Juncker said, as quoted by AFP.
“And it makes a statement to the world: there is no reverse gear to the energy transition, there is no backsliding on the Paris agreement,” Juncker said.
The Chinese premier also highlighted the importance of upholding rules.
“In this world we will be in a jungle without rules. China always upholds multilateral rules, including WTO rules,” he said.
European Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said Trump's “announcement [to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement] has galvanized us rather than weakened us, and this vacuum will be filled by new broad committed leadership.”
“Europe and its strong partners all around the world are ready to lead the way,” the Spaniard said in a statement on the eve of the summit.