Friday

28th Apr 2017

EU leaders must stand up to Trump, say MEPs

MEPs urged EU leaders to stand up to US president Donald Trump and defend European values on Wednesday (1 February) amid concerns over the travel ban to the US for refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Several MEPs also called for the EU council and commission to reject the favourite to become US ambassador to the bloc, Ted Malloch. He has said in recent interviews that the euro could collapse soon, and that the EU "needs a little taming", seemingly comparing it to the Soviet Union.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

MEPs stressed the importance of EU-US relations, and an openness to working with the new US administration, but also called on EU leaders meeting in Malta on Friday to unite against those who want to divide and weaken the EU.

"The US is our closest ally. But Donald Trump wants Europe to be split and weak. So does Russian President Vladimir Putin," Manfred Weber leader of the centre-right European People's Party group said in the European Parliament on Wednesday.

"This is why we need to show them that we are united and strong and that Europeans are standing up for their values."

Gianni Pittella, leader of the Socialist group, called the Trump's travel ban an attack on the rule of law.

He labelled claims that the policy was aimed at border management or fighting terrorism "a populist lie".

Both said they would object to a US ambassador who "wants to destroy" the bloc, although the EP does not have a role in accrediting ambassadors.

Let's not forget the voter

Syed Kamall, leader of the conservative group of MEPs, said the travel ban was arbitrary and played into the hands of extremists.

"Sending a message that there is some inherent contradiction between being a good Muslim and a good citizens of a Western democracy plays into the arms extremist groups like Daesh [ISIS], who make the exactly the same claim when they recruit disillusioned people as terrorists," he warned.

But he also warned his fellow MEPs not to overlook the causes of disillusionment with the status quo.

"Every time a mainstream politician dismisses those who disagree with the current direction of political travel, dismisses them as racist or populist, they simply display an inability to offer a credible alternative," he said.

'He's lying to you'

There was one voice of unequivocal support for Donald Trump and his travel ban - it came from former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

He told MEPs they were only upset because in the US they see a real democracy in action.

"A genuinely elected democrat is doing what he was elected to do," Farage argued, saying that former US president Barack Obama has also banned Iraqis from entering the US for six months and nobody protested.

"Trump is motivated by protecting the US from Islamic terrorism, while you have welcomed these people into your own homes," Farage told MEPs amid shouts and boos.

Labour MEP Seb Dance, sitting behind Farage, held up a sign during the former UKIP leader's speech, saying "He is lying to you", until an usher asked him to put down the sign.

In a statement later, Dance said he held up the sign because that was the only way to protest against Farage's speech.

"Mainstream politics must be more willing to challenge the nationalists and the populists. They pretend to stand up for people who are suffering but their diet of hate, division and suspicion creates only misery and poverty," he said.

"It’s time to stop the nuanced language: They’re liars."

UKIP’s Bill Etheridge has filed a complaint to EP president Antonio Tajani over the incident.

According to the complaint seen by this website, Etheridge said Dance's sign was making a "defamatory personal remark".

“The officials failed to remove him until the end of the speech and when I raised the matter it was not treated with sufficient seriousness by the acting chair," he wrote.

EPP group frustrated with Orban

Orban's ruling Fidesz party is getting too much to handle for the EPP group, as they are once again forced to defend the Hungarian premier's controversial actions.

France still anxious over possibility of Le Pen win

Despite opinion polls that place centrist Macron well ahead of the far-right leader Le Pen in the 7 May presidential run-off, doubts are emerging about his capacity to unite the French people around his candidacy.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well,Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  2. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  3. One year later: EU right to open Internet still virtual
  4. Rethinking Europe's relationship with Turkey
  5. Mob storms Macedonian parliament
  6. MEPs retain secrecy on office spending
  7. May accuses EU-27 of 'lining up against Britain'
  8. Resurrected Renzi to regain leadership of Italy's ruling party