Weber: If Trump treats Europe as an enemy, we’ll defend our industry

Manfred Weber, the chairman of the European People's Party (EPP) in the European Parliament and deputy leader of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) party, gestures on stage after the election of the top candidate of the party for the European elections 2019 during a party congress in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, 24 November 2018. [EPA-EFE/LUKAS BARTH-TUTTAS]

In case the trade war between Europe and the US intensifies and President Trump treats Europe as an enemy, then the latter will have no choice but to defend its industry, centre-right Spitzenkandidat Manfred Weber said.

In an interview with the European Business Review, the EPP’s Group leader in the European Parliament and candidate for the EU Commission top office said Europe does not want a trade conflict.

“We have tried everything to make dialogue and mutual understanding prevail. If President Trump decides to treat Europe as an enemy, we will have no choice but to defend the European industry, European jobs, European interests,” the German conservative politician emphasised.

“This will have consequences for the American people too. In a trade conflict there are only losers,” Weber added.

The Bavarian politician also said the new situation with increased US isolation, should be seen as a wake-up call for Europeans to be the “bridge-builders” and reliable partners towards the rest of the world.

“Europe has to act with a clear message, united, calm and proportionate. I do hope, however, that the transatlantic relations can improve again,” Weber said.

France’s absence

Weber also referred to the next EU elections in May and reiterated that the main objective was to tackle rising populism across the continent.

Asked about “Europe’s Germanisation”, considering that Germans have taken most EU institutions’ top posts, Weber replied: “The European Commission should be, and is, a representation of all member states. All member states in Europe are equal in front of the Treaties. Politically, too, it would be wrong for one country or the other to become too dominant.”

However, he hinted that France’s ‘absence’ in EU politics should not be disregarded in this matter.

“I have the idea that a country like France has been more absent the last decade. So, even if I don’t always agree with President Macron, I do welcome the European engagement of his presidency.”

French President Macron, whose party is not currently represented in the Parliament, will probably ally with the liberal ALDE Group in the next EU elections.

He has said he wants to create a “progressive coalition” in the next EU Parliament and analysts expect he is able to attract members from the EPP and S&D.

Macron has not made, though, his plans clear about the EU elections. Paris officially opposes the Spitzenkandidaten process, something that Berlin fully backs. On the other hand, Berlin opposed the transnational lists proposed by Macron.

An EPP source told EURACTIV in September 2018 that Macron would go for the Spitzenkandidaten process if he had a political group in the European Parliament.

“With his non-participation in the democratic debate ahead of the election, he disqualifies France from having an EU high-level post,” the source said.

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Socialists and liberals are crying wolf about centre-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán because they want to cover up problems in their own political families, a European People’s Party (EPP) source told, in an indication that jockeying for positions ahead of 2019 European elections had truly begun.

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