The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk (left), with the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, in Brussels on May 15, 2018
The leaders of the European Union should outline this Wednesday in Sofia a collective response of the 28 to the criticized decisions of US President Donald Trump on the Iranian nuclear program and international trade.
European leaders must also address the recent bloodbath in the Gaza Strip, where dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire since the opening of the United States embassy in Jerusalem on Monday.
“We are going to reflect on recent international events, especially after President Trump’s announcements on Iran and on trade,” the European Council’s president, Donald Tusk, wrote in his invitation letter to the working dinner in Sofia.
Tonight’s meeting in the Bulgarian capital is the prelude to a summit planned on Thursday between the European and Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo) to reaffirm their ties with this region. , in the face of Russian influence.
The summit, the first of its kind in 15 years, will not be attended by Spaniard Mariano Rajoy, since his country does not recognize the unilateral independence of Kosovo from Serbia in 2008. The decision “is the most consistent with the position” of Madrid, defended on Tuesday in Sofia, where it is scheduled to the dinner of European leaders.
– A ‘determined’ EU –
Although no concrete decision is planned this Wednesday, the 28 will seek to show a unity without failures to the US challenges, especially the withdrawal of the Iranian nuclear agreement.
“I would like our debate to confirm without any doubt that as long as Iran respects the provisions of the agreement, the EU will also respect them,” Tusk said in his letter.
The leader of Polish origin asked the three European countries signatories of the nuclear agreement (France, United Kingdom and Germany) to share their assessment of the situation on Wednesday, a day after a meeting in Brussels with the head of Iranian diplomacy, Mohamad Javad Zarif.
The Europeans, who seek to protect their economic interests linked to the resumption of trade with Tehran, will address the possibility of a 1996 instrument that allows them to protect their companies in Iran against threats of US extraterritorial sanctions.
For example, it would be a matter of recognizing in the EU a decision of the United States based on these sanctions. “We are willing to do it if necessary,” European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos warned on Wednesday, saying the EU is “determined.”
– Stand firm –
The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, must present during the dinner the advances of the conversations in course with Washington on the intention of Trump to impose sanctions to steel and aluminum
The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, must present during the dinner the advances of the conversations under way with Washington about the intention of Trump to impose sanctions on steel and aluminum.
“I will propose that we remain firm, it is the only way to protect European interests,” Tusk warned, recalling that the EU demanded a permanent exemption from US customs duties.
The EU is exempt until midnight on May 31 from the heavy tariffs of 25% for its exports to the United States of steel and 10% for aluminum exports. To exempt them definitively, Washington demands a greater opening of the European market.
Europeans study various scenarios and the Commission recently opened the door to a discussion on a “limited” trade agreement, which would cover only customs duties on industrial and agricultural products.
Germany is favorable to this opening, but not France, which fears the resurgence of opposition to the unpopular agreement with States (TTIP), whose negotiations have been in stalemate since the arrival of Trump.
In addition to Iran and trade, the 28 will also talk about the events in Gaza that are also linked “to the consequences of the decisions” of Trump, says a senior European official in reference to the transfer of the embassy.
The EU urged “all” to “maximum restraint” after clashes between Gazans and Israeli soldiers on the fence that separates this Palestinian enclave from Israel against the inauguration of the embassy in Jerusalem.