European Union leaders say President Donald Trump’s election has unified the union and pushed it to take care of external threats.
Trump is the first U.S. president to openly criticize the EU project. While many leaders have spoken out against his policies, they agree EU cooperation against external threats has become more important.
“With the not-so-certain future outlook regarding policies of all its global partners, the EU has become more unified,” Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas told Bloomberg during an EU summit Sunday in Malta. “A clear understanding has emerged that if this union is strong, willing to cooperate and boldly takes on new initiatives, then there will be progress.”
Uncertainty over Trump’s commitment to the NATO alliance has made defense spending a central issue. The EU’s most prominent leaders — including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May — urged their European counterpart to meet their NATO defense spending obligations.
NATO presence in the Baltics and Poland has increased rapidly in recent months, which has calmed some of the fears surrounding Russian aggression in the area.
“Theresa May has signaled that Estonia won’t be left behind and that Estonia is an important ally for NATO,” Ratas told Bloomberg “All NATO members understand we’re a trustworthy ally, be it the U.S. or Britain.”
Foreign ministers moved to extend sanctions against Russia Monday until the Kremlin drops its support for the separatist rebellion in Ukraine.
“I cannot say where the US administration stands on this but I can say where the Europeans stand on this,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said, according to Reuters.
The Hungarian government claims the election of Trump has contributed to “a change of mood in Europe” that has “vindicated” anti-immigration policies. The EU agreed on a 200 million euro package ($213 million) to combat migration and boost protection of the bloc’s external borders during the summit in Malta.
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