EU foreign ministers were to hold special talks today on Donald Trump’s stunning US election win as NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned bluntly of the dangers of American isolationism.
But the talks were to take place without the foreign ministers of Britain and France, apparently reflecting their concerns about over-dramatising European fears. The informal dinner has been called by European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on the eve of a scheduled monthly meeting of foreign ministers.
An aide to Mogherini said the talks would simply be about “exchanging views on how to move forward” in EU-US relations. “Whenever elections take place in a partner of such strategic importance as the United States, we obviously reflect on future cooperation,” a senior EU official said. Mogherini is to meet the press afterwards, at around 8.00 PM GMT.
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The meeting takes place amid a surge of anxiety sparked by Trump’s campaign-trail rhetoric, which questioned the seven-decade-old US commitment to Europe. In an article in Britain’s Observer newspaper today, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg warned, “We face the greatest challenges to our security in a generation.”
“This is no time to question the partnership between Europe and the United States,” he said. “(…) Going it alone is not an option.” Stoltenberg added: “In these uncertain times we need strong American leadership, and we need Europeans to shoulder their fair share of the burden.
“But above all we need to recognise the value of the partnership between Europe and America. It remains indispensable.” In London, a foreign office spokesman said British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson would attend Monday’s scheduled meeting, but not the dinner.
“We do not see the need for an additional meeting on Sunday because the US election timetable is long established,” a British Foreign Office spokesman said. “An act of democracy has taken place, there is a transition period and we will work with the current and future administrations to ensure the best outcomes for Britain.”
In Paris, the French foreign ministry said Ayrault was unable to attend the dinner as he had a “very important meeting” early tomorrow with incoming UN chief Antonio Guterres. Ayrault and Johnson are expected to be replaced at the dinner table by their respective EU ambassadors.