Europe can no longer completely rely on its traditional British and American allies, Angela Merkel has warned, saying the EU must now be prepared to “take its fate into its own hands”.
Speaking after bruising meetings of Nato and the G7 group of wealthy nations last week, the German chancellor suggested the postwar western alliance had been badly undermined by the UK’s Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election.
“The times in which we could completely depend on others are to a certain extent over,” she told an election rally in Munich on Sunday. “I’ve experienced that in the last few days. We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands.”
The chancellor told a 2,500-strong crowd in the Bavarian capital that Germanyand Europe would strive to remain on good terms with the US, Britain and other countries, “even with Russia”, but added: “We have to know that we must fight for our future on our own, for our destiny as Europeans.”
The two-day G7 summit in Italy pitted the US president – whom Merkel did not mention by name – against the leaders of Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Japan on several issues.
The leaders did vow to fight protectionism, reiterating “a commitment to keep our markets open”. They also agreed to step up pressure on North Korea, cooperate more closely on terrorism and look into placing tougher sanctions on Russia.
But while six of the seven leaders renewed their commitment to the 2015 Paris accord on climate change, Trump said he needed more time to decide.
Merkel said the result of the “six against one” talks was “very difficult, if not to say very unsatisfactory”. Trump was more positive on Twitter, saying: “Just returned from Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!”
At the Nato summit in Brussels on Thursday, Trump repeated past accusations that other members of the alliance were failing to meet its military spending commitment of 2% of GDP, saying this was “not fair” on US taxpayers.
He also failed to endorse the pact’s article five mutual defence clause – an omission seen as especially striking as he was unveiling a memorial to those killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the US, the only time it has been triggered.
Trump also reportedly described German trade practices as “bad, very bad”, in separate talks in Brussels, and complained that Germany, Europe’s largest economy, sells too many cars to the US.
By contrast, Merkel said she wished the new French president, Emmanuel Macron, every success and promised Germany would do what it could to help France in a bid to revive the ailing Franco-German engine that has long powered Europe.
“Where Germany can help, Germany will help,” she said to loud applause, “because Germany can only do well if Europe is doing well.”
Polls show the chancellor, in power since 2005, on course to be re-elected for a fourth term.