The Brief: Tusk gores Trump in clash of the Donalds

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.

TUSK GORES TRUMP IN CLASH OF THE DONALDS

Donald Tusk today placed his namesake President Trump in the rogues’ gallery of EU bogeymen, alongside the likes of Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan.

In a letter to EU leaders ahead of this week’s summit in Malta, Tusk lined the US up in the EU’s very own axis of evil, alongside Russia, China and Turkey.

“Worrying declarations by the new American administration all make our future highly unpredictable,” wrote Tusk, who identified the US as a “threat” to the EU.

“We must stand up very clearly for our dignity, the dignity of a united Europe – regardless of whether we are talking to Russia, China, the US or Turkey.”

Tusk’s unpresidented – sorry unprecedented – broadside signals a hardening of EU attitudes towards the US, at least at the institutional level.

Turkey, despite its hosting of millions of refugees, is regularly criticised over its human rights record. China’s huge population and endless reserves of cash has long been seen as a threat to the competitiveness of Europe’s economy. Russia is demonised as the untrustworthy, unscrupulous neighbour that illegally annexed Crimea.

Tusk said that the turbulent first 11 days of the Trump presidency had called the last 70 years of American foreign policy into question.

The rebuke was sparked by Trump’s controversial travel ban and anti-EU posturing. His team expects other countries to follow Britain and quit the bloc. The man tipped to be the next US ambassador to the EU has compared it to the Soviet Union.

The US, so long a close ally, is now cooling its heels in the bloc’s basket of deplorables. It’s almost certain Trump couldn’t care less.

Tusk, his jaw grimly set as he warmed to the task, bellowed, “Let us show our European pride.”

“Objectively speaking, there is no reason why Europe and its leaders should pander to external powers and their rulers.”

Whether EU leaders answer Tusk’s rallying call or leave him in the lurch remains to be seen. But, for many member states, there are plenty of objective reasons to cosy up to even the most distateful foreign leaders.

THE ROUNDUP

Donald Trump is notoriously thin-skinned and quick to react to criticism, especially on Twitter. So we tweeted him Tusk’s stern words. If Trump takes the bait we will let you know…

Yesterday’s press conference with Jean-Claude Juncker and Bulgaria’s new leader Rumen Radev was called at very short notice. There were suggestions of a plot to wrong-foot the press and dodge uncomfortable questions about Trump.

But the Commission today said there was “no conspiracy theory”. Bulgaria will wait until May at the earliest to name a replacement for former EU Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva.

Transparency International wants the European Commission to reform the three-person committee that reviews ethics breaches and give them power to sanction former Commissioners who take on lobbying jobs. More than half of ex-Commissioners now work for companies on the EU lobby register and MEPs are just as bad.

The European Court of Justice ruled that EU countries can refuse asylum to anyone who has helped commit or organise a terrorist act.

British MPs have begun debating the bill to give Theresa May the power to trigger Article 50. The Times reports May will fire the starting gun at the 9 March European Council.

A former Romanian MP has made it onto Europol’s most wanted list for corruption charges, including a bribery scandal involving Tony Blair.

French exports are becoming more competitive, but importers still say they’re too expensive. France’s foreign minister has vowed to defend the Iran nuclear deal against a hostile President Trump.

Left-wing Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said during a visit to Spain that his country and Spain “are setting a global example of how to treat foreigners”.

There will be an anti-Trump demonstration outside the US embassy in Brussels on Sunday, 12 February. Despite the controversy, writes Philippa Nuttall Jones, we must remember the EU’s migration policies are causing thousands to suffer.

EU legislators are holding final talks today to set limits on wholesale roaming charges, which is the last hurdle before mobile roaming fees are set to disappear within Europe.

In such uncertain times it is important to take time to enjoy the good things in life. Like this story about Tinder for orangutans.

LOOK OUT FOR…

The European Commission will launch its second State of the Energy Union report tomorrow. Trump’s former climate advisor Myron Ebell will give the keynote at the ACRE’s Blue Green Summit tomorrow. In London today, Ebell said Trump would “definitely” pull the US out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Views are the author’s.

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