European Council President Donald Tusk has warned EU leaders to "prepare for the worst" in EU-US relations ahead of the EU summit in Brussels this week. Curbing migration and economics is all on the agenda.
European Council President Donald Tusk has warned European Union leaders that they should "prepare for the worst" in EU-US relations. In a letter to EU leaders, who will be gathering in Brussels for a summit on Thursday and Friday, he also laid out the agenda for discussions at the important meeting, with migration topping the list.
Writing on the issue of trans-Atlantic relations, Tusk said US President Donald Trump's policies have been increasingly at loggerheads with the bloc's values.
"It is my belief that, while hoping for the best, we must be ready to prepare our union for worst-case scenarios," Tusk wrote. "Despite our tireless efforts to keep the unity of the West, trans-Atlantic relations are under immense pressure due to the policies of President Trump."
Trump has withdrawn the US from the Paris climate agreement and Iran nuclear deal, despite repeated pleas by the EU to stick with them. Then in June, citing "national security" the Trump administration set off fears of a trade war by imposing tariffs on EU steel and aluminum. The EU responded with a set of retaliatory tariffs.
One EU official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told DPA news agency that such "negative" decisions were starting to "look like a pattern" where the US has "no friends, no enemies" and where preserving the international rules-based structure was not a focus.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will share his views on EU-NATO cooperation at the meeting.
With Italy, Malta and other countries reluctant to accept more refugees, Tusk's letter largely focused on figuring out how to curb the flow of migrants to the EU. He called for the European Council to endorse three key points:
"Setting up regional disembarkation platforms outside Europe, if possible together with the UNHCR and IOM, in order to change the functioning of Search And Rescue Operations. Our objective should be to break the business model of the smugglers, as this is the most effective way to stop the flows and bring an end to the tragic loss of lives at sea."
"Creating in the next multiannual EU budget a DEDICATED financial facility geared towards combatting illegal migration. We need a flexible budgetary tool managed by those responsible for migration, as only they are capable of ensuring effective cooperation with the countries of origin and transit on stemming the flows."
"Stepping up our cooperation with countries of origin and transit, and in particular our support for the Libyan Coastguard, so that they have all the necessary resources to fully control Libyan territorial waters."
Economic and monetary union on the agenda
Tusk also touched on the topic of the reform of the economic and monetary union. "As agreed in December, my intention is to take the first decisions about completing the Banking Union and strengthening the European Stability Mechanism."
On Friday, EU leaders will hear how Brexit negotiations are coming along.