Tuesday

20th Nov 2018

Nato helps bind Western ties amid G7 'trade war'

  • Stoltenberg (r) with US defence chief Mattis in Brussels on Thursday (Photo: nato.int)

Nato is helping to sustain transatlantic unity amid a Western rift on trade, its Norwegian director has said.

But extra American troops in Europe and new military HQs were overshadowed the same day by a public quarrel between US president Donald Trump and French leader Emmanuel Macron.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Nato ministers met for first time at its new HQ in Belgium (Photo: nato.int)

"Not only do we see a Nato which is united, but we see actually a Nato which is able to strengthen our cooperation and transatlantic bond," Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato head and former Norwegian PM, told press in Brussels on Thursday (7 June).

"Despite the differences we see between Nato allies … on issues like trade, we see a Nato which is delivering on strengthening our collective defence, [and] the biggest reinforcement to our collective defence since the end of the Cold War," he added.

Stoltenberg spoke after Nato defence ministers met at its new HQ in Belgium.

He also spoke ahead of a summit of the Group of Seven, or G7, powerful nations, in Canada this weekend, where the US-EU trade dispute will take the centre stage.

Trump imposed 'America First' tariffs on EU steel and aluminium exports last month on national security grounds, prompting an EU retaliation against US products.

But US defence minister Jim Mattis echoed Stoltenberg when asked in Brussels on Thursday if the trade clash could harm defence ties.

"Right now I don't see that ... and I think it's still premature to call it a trade war," Mattis said.

Transatlantic unity was put further in doubt two days ago, when a new government in Italy, a G7 member, said the West should lift sanctions on Russia.

But Stoltenberg downplayed the new political force in Rome. He described Italy as "a valued and important … ally" that was "contributing to our shared security in many different ways".

"Nato allies have welcomed and supported the sanctions because it has to have a cost … when international rules are violated," Stoltenberg said, referring to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"We have to stay united, especially when we see that Russia tries to divide us," he said.

Nato defence ministers, on Thursday, agreed to add 1,200 personnel to its command structures and to create new HQs in the US and in Germany, he noted.

The US was also putting more troops in Europe in order to deter Russian aggression, he added.

"For the first time in Nato's history, we have combat troops, or we have battlegroups in the Baltic region and in Poland. We have a US-led battlegroup in Poland," Stoltenberg said.

"What we see is that the US is increasing its presence in Europe," he said.

Trump-Macron tweets

The Nato facts on the ground were overshadowed by a public feud between Trump and Macron on trade later the same day, however.

The Twitter punch-up came after Macron attacked Trump's tariffs at a press conference with Canadian leader Justin Trudeau in Canada ahead of the G7 summit.

"We [Nato members] are all engaged in conflicts in Syria, in Iraq, in the Sahel, in different places in the world. We're allies. Our soldiers stand shoulder-to-shoulder to defend liberty and our values," Macron said.

"You can't, among allies in this international context, start a trade war. For me it's a question of principle," he said.

Trump's tariffs were "unilateral and illegal" and his use of national security as a pretext was "risible", Canada's Trudeau said.

The other six countries might well sign a separate declaration on trade and on climate change at the G7 summit in Quebec, leaving Trump out in the cold, Macron also said.

"The American president may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a six-country agreement if need be," the French leader said on Twitter, prompting Trump to get involved.

Trump hit back that the EU and Canada had "for years … used massive trade tariffs and non-monetary trade barriers against the US".

The EU had a trade surplus of $151bn with the US he said, in a factually incorrect comment, which exaggerated the real surplus by $50bn.

"Look forward to seeing them [Macron and Trudeau] tomorrow," Trump added, sarcastically, setting the scene for another show of Western disunity in Canada on Saturday.

Analysis

Trump befriends Conte, depresses EU

Most EU leaders found US president Donald Trump "depressing" at the G7, but one of them - Italy's Giuseppe Conte - made a new friend.

Mr Juncker goes to Washington

European Commission president will meet US president Donald Trump before the end of July to try to "de-dramatise" the tense trade relations.

News in Brief

  1. UK court rules against government in Article 50 case
  2. May to meet Juncker on Wednesday to finalise Brexit deal
  3. Future of EU's Mediterranean naval mission in doubt
  4. EU budget talks for 2019 collapse
  5. EU mulls new Russia sanctions over Ukraine 'elections'
  6. EU farm chief 'confident' sugar prices will recover
  7. Researcher: EU expert groups still imbalanced and opaque
  8. Nature groups disappointed by EU fishing deal

Stakeholder

An open China brings opportunities to Europe

Some 60 years ago, the first major World Fair after World War II was held in Brussels. Sixty years on, China International Import Expo (CIIE), the first world expo dedicated to expanding imports, will open in Shanghai, China.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Cyprus and Greece to create EU spy academy
  2. MEPs likely to delay vote on greater transparency
  3. Cold shoulder for Franco-German euro budget plan
  4. Whistleblower: Danske Bank gag stops me telling more
  5. Spain raises Gibraltar, as EU and UK talk post-2020 relationship
  6. Panic is not answer to EU's security challenges
  7. Dutch flesh out proposal for EU human rights sanctions
  8. EU cheerleaders go to Russia-occupied Ukraine

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us