The Brief: Will Trump divide Europe?

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.

Last month Barack Obama was in Berlin, where he participated in a panel discussion on democracy with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in front of 70,000 people.

At a spot where the Berlin wall once stood, Obama spent 90 minutes talking about international and US issues without once mentioning his successor Donald Trump.

Yesterday, Henry Kissinger was in Berlin, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan. Standing beside the dean of US diplomacy, Merkel said it was important not to forget that George C. Marshall, the US statesman after whom the Marshall Plan was named, “was convinced that good trade and a strong economy in Europe was good for American companies too”.

It was, of course, a message to Donald Trump, who repeats that trade with Germany was bad for the US, and things were going to change.

On 1 July Bill Clinton will be in Strasburg to speak at a ceremony in honour of Helmut Kohl, the hero of German reunification and one of the fathers of the EU as we know it.

Mike Bloomberg, Jerry Brown, Arnold Schwarzenegger and many others join the EU in a string of initiatives to defend the Paris climate change agreement after the Trump pull-out.

Neither Merkel nor Juncker will say it on the record, but they are trying to ignore Trump and give priority to other heavy hitters from the US.

But the EU cannot boycott the US president. Major meetings such as the G20 summit in Hamburg on 7-8 July will take place in his presence.

And Trump still has friends in Europe, such as Poland’s Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Before landing in Hamburg, Air Force One will make a stopover in Warsaw, where Trump will attend a summit of the “Three Seas Initiative”.

Apart from Poland, this recent pro-Atlantic initiative comprises the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Austria, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia, First Lady Melania’s home country.

How strongly do all these countries from Central and Eastern Europe feel about Trump?

It’s difficult to say. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis was recently humiliated during a White House press conference. But as some EU countries shun him and others welcome him with open arms, Trump could become the wedge that drives the Union apart.

THE ROUNDUP

Ahead of his first European Council summit today, Emmanuel Macron said he believed Europe was capable of changing the world with France as its heart… as long as France manages to reform itself first.

Follow EURACTIV’s coverage live as the Council Summit unfolds.

Ahead of tomorrow’s Council discussions on migration, German think tank Friedrich Ebert Stiftung has reported that the EU-Turkey deal has just shifted the Balkan route through Bulgaria.

German lawmakers have agreed to pull out their troops from Turkey’s Incirlik air base after repeatedly being denied access for routine visits. Ankara said Berlin would have to improve its attitude before visits could be approved.

A Belarussian activist told EURACTIV’s Georgi Gotev that EU officials have taken bribes in return for Schengen visas in Belarus and accused the European Parliament’s petitions committee of failing to give adequate attention to 90% of cases they receive. English subtitles coming soon.

The EU’s chemicals agency has officially classified bisphenol A as an endocrine disruptor.

Serbians are worried about the tax revenues lost through the shadow economy, which accounts for one-third of all trade in the country.

Poland’s environment minister has called for the UNESCO heritage status of the primeval Bialowieza forest to be repealed to allow large-scale logging.

Slovakia’s energy network boss told EURACTIV that security of supply should remain a national competence, even if countries should cooperate to avoid overcapacity.

Europe will miss its Paris Agreement targets unless it decarbonises its building stock, a heating and cooling expert said in an interview with EURACTIV. This requires a strategy encompassing renewable energies and renovation.

The head of Europe’s telecoms watchdogs said less regulation is like the dark side in Star Wars: Yoda would say it is “quicker, easier, more seductive, but not stronger”.

LOOK OUT FOR…

Emmanuel Macron is meeting the leaders of the Visegrad Four tomorrow morning ahead of the second day of the EUCO summit.

Views are the author’s.

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