EU heads discuss bold-or-fold strategy toward Trump tariffs

Tusk went on to say the Iran deal remains "good for European and global security, which is why we must maintain it - despite the USA hesitation".

He also criticized U.S. President Donald trump, who announced their withdrawal from the agreement, reports dpa.

"Given the recent decisions of the President trump, you would think, with such friends don't need enemies", - said Tusk.

Trump's decision to abandon the 2015 nuclear accord risks exposing European countries that have since invested in Iran to renewed USA sanctions, after "wind-down" periods of three to six months expire.

That came a day after many European newspapers featured dueling photographs on their front pages: the beaming visage of first daughter Ivanka Trump opening the new US Embassy in Jerusalem, and the smoky carnage an hour's drive away in Gaza, where scores of Palestinian protesters were killed by the Israeli military.

Trump has placed import duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium on grounds of national security, but has temporarily exempted European Union producers until June 1, depending on the outcome of talks.

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Donald Tusk even contrasted the USA organization with Europe's conventional adversaries Moscow and Beijing as he propelled his broadside before a supper of the 28 pioneers in Sofia where they examined the issue. This is the only real alternative. To put it simply: either we are together, or we will not be at all.

"Frankly speaking, Europe should be grateful to President Trump because thanks to him we have got rid of all illusions". He has made us realise that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm."European leaders are troubled by Trump's "America first" rhetoric and inconsistent statements on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union. But at the same time we must be prepared for those scenarios where we have to act on our own".

After the talks, a European source told AFP the leaders agreed on a "united EU approach" on the Iran deal, including continued support for the agreement if Tehran abides by it. But Europeans are increasingly exasperated by the way Trump is steering U.S. policy, objecting not only to his stances but also to what they say is erratic policy making that switches on the whim of Fox News programmers.

European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said the EU was willing to a so-called blocking statute that would make it illegal for European companies to comply with U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran and not recognize USA court decisions that enforce American sanctions. "That means permanent exemptions from USA tariffs on aluminium and steel". The EU and USA are friends and partners, therefore United States tariffs can not be justified on the basis of national security'.

But there are divisions over the embassy move within the European Union itself, with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania having recently blocked an European Union statement slamming the USA decision.

"We need to bring reality back to this discussion, which is not the case today, " he said.

  • Megan Austin