Europe owes peace and prosperity to ‘friendship with US’ – UK foreign secretary
Hunt arrived to the meeting of EU foreign ministers in the Austrian capital of Vienna on Thursday, saying that not only Brexit but also the transatlantic relations will be discussed “in a lot of detail” during the gathering.
“In the UK, we believe that we have prospered in Europe with unprecedented peace, economic prosperity because there’s been a strong friendship and relationship between the US and Europe,” he said.
As for the current rift between Europe and America, Hunt said “of course, there’s going to be times when we disagree, but I think now is the time when we should remember all the things in common that we have with the US and make sure that we continue that strong transatlantic partnership.”
Hunt’s attempt to reconcile the EU and US isn’t surprising, with London positioning itself as Washington’s prime ally in Europe. However, the European counterparts are unlikely to take top British diplomat’s words to heart as many in the block now believe that it’s time for the EU to learn to prosper and protect itself without the American assistance.
On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said that Europe can “no longer” entrust its security to the US and should finally “take responsibility” for guaranteeing its sovereignty. German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, also spoke about the need to “recalibrate the transatlantic partnership” with Washington, echoing previous statements by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Relations between the EU and US have lately deteriorated under US President Donald Trump, who unleashed a trade war against the block earlier this year, imposing harsh tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. Berlin, Paris and other European capitals are also angered by Trump’s demands to increase military spending to 4 percent of their GDP in line with their commitment to the US-led NATO military alliance.
Another dividing issue is the Iranian nuclear deal, which Washington abandoned in May despite heavy lobbying from Macron and Merkel not to do so. The Trump administration reinstated economic restrictions against Tehran and threatened the European companies with sanctions if they continue doing business with Iran, which even led to an idea of own banking transactions system indented from the US being discussed in the EU.
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