Wednesday

7th Dec 2016

Juncker wants clarity on Trump's policies

The EU wants US president-elect Donald Trump to clarify his position on climate change, global trade and Nato following an election campaign in which he promised dramatic changes of direction.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday (10 November) said the forthcoming Trump administration needed to share its "intentions" in the next few months.

"We would like to know what intentions he has regarding the [Nato] alliance. We must know what climate policies he intends to pursue. This must be cleared up in the next few months," he said in a speech, quoted by Reuters news agency.

Fears are mounting that a Trump-led administration may isolate the US on defence and the environment.

Speaking at a business event in Berlin, Juncker said Trump's critical stand on a free-trade deal between the EU and US must be clarified as well.

"We would like to know how things will proceed with global trade policy," said Juncker.

On Wednesday, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said EU officials "frankly don't know" what to expect from Trump in the current talks on TTIP, the EU-US trade deal.

The firebrand US property and casino mogul has threatened to withdraw from the recently agreed Paris climate accord aimed at slowing the temperature rise of a warming planet and cutting emissions.

In 2012, he said global warming was a conspiracy "created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive".

Trump also tapped climate sceptic Myron Ebell to help reshape environmental policies, a policy wonk who described Obama's clean power plan on greenhouse gases as illegal.

It won't be easy for the US to withdraw from the Paris agreement, according to Segolene Royal, France's environment minister.

“The Paris agreement prohibits any exit for a period of three years, plus a year-long notice period, so there will be four stable years,” she said.

Instead, climate campaigners say Trump's pro-fossil fuel agenda will strangle the renewable energy drive in the US.

"It is regrettable that the next US President has not yet understood that the world is on track to phase out fossil fuels," said Ulriikka Aarnio, from the Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe.

Juncker, in his congratulatory statement to Trump's presidential victory, also said joint US-EU efforts on climate change and free trade needed to "remain strong and durable".

But the polarising president-elect is likely to push forward with his own agenda, regardless of EU-led pressure, in a congress that will also be controlled by Republicans.

Political groups in the European Parliament have spoken about Trump in less diplomatic terms.

"Donald Trump is the expression of a virus that has deeply infected our societies, not only in the US but also in Europe," said Italian MEP Gianni Pittella, who heads the socialist S&D group.

Analysis

Austrian far-right: beaten, but not defeated

Far-right candidate Norbert Hofer's loss to Green-backed Alexander Van der Bellen sent relief across Europe, but his party is still in a good position to head a government in the future.

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