Tusk’s EU riposte to Trump: Respect the allies you have

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Council President Donald Tusk told U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday to stop berating NATO allies over military investment levels ahead of what is expected to be a fraught alliance summit.

  • European Council President Donald Tusk addresses a news conference during an European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 29, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Walschaerts/File Photo
  • Before taking off for Brussels, Trump again chided fellow NATO members for not contributing enough to the alliance while maintaining a trade surplus with the United States, his latest reprimand on issues that are straining transatlantic relations.

    “Dear America, appreciate your allies, after all you don’t have that many,” Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, said after a signing statement on more cooperation between the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, although he also accepted Europe should spend more on defense.

    Many U.S. presidents have urged European governments to spend more on their militaries. But Trump has intensified the demands to such an extent that allies worry it could damage NATO morale and play into the hands Russian President Vladimir Putin, who they accuse of trying to divide and destabilize the West.

    “Dear President Trump: America does not have, and will not have a better ally than Europe,” said Tusk, who chairs summits of EU leaders. “Today, Europeans (collectively) spend on defense many times more than Russia, and as much as China.” He said that money went toward both U.S. and European security when the United States regards Russia and China as threats.

    Trump’s tweet on Tuesday echoed earlier posts on Twitter on Monday and his criticism at a rally of supporters in the United States last week, in which he said that Washington was unfairly carrying almost all the cost of defending Europe.

    “Getting ready to leave for Europe. First meeting – NATO. The U.S. is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them. Not fair to the U.S. taxpayer,” Trump said.

    European officials say while U.S. defense spending makes up 70 percent of combined allied governments’ military budgets, just 15 percent of U.S. expenditure is spent in Europe on NATO-related defense. Washington pays about 22 percent of the running cost of NATO, including the headquarters and commonly-funded equipment such as AWACS surveillance planes.

    “On top of that we lose $151 Billion on Trade with the European Union. Charge us big Tariffs (& Barriers)!” Trump also said in the same tweet.

    EU and U.S. government data put the U.S. trade deficit with the EU at around $100 billion, including services such as finance, where the United States has a surplus. EU officials also say most tariffs on U.S. goods are already low to zero.

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