EU leaders round on Trump over trade at G7
BIARRITZ- Agence France Presse
EU leaders rounded on U.S. President Donald Trump over his trade threats on Aug. 24 as they arrived in the chic French seaside resort of Biarritz for a G7 summit overshadowed by trans-Atlantic tensions and worries about the global economy.
Already embroiled in a high-risk trade war with China, Trump warned late Friday he would impose punishing tariffs on French wine if France doesn’t withdraw a new digital tax that will hit US tech giants.
The European Union "will respond in kind," EU Council President Donald Tusk answered to Trump, who issued his threat on departing Washington for Biarritz.
Host Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, and even British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also sounded the alarm about the dangers of Trump’s escalating trade war with China.
"I am very concerned. The UK is at risk of being implicated in this. This is not the way to proceed," Johnson told reporters on the plane to the G7 summit in Biarritz.
"I want to see a dialling down of tensions."
The stormy start to a summit of what are meant to be like-minded allies -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States -- led Tusk to sound a dire alarm over the future of Western leadership.
"This may be the last moment to restore our political community," he said. "The world needs our cooperation."
In an attempt to lighten the mood, Macron deployed his secret weapon of French cuisine diplomacy, treating Trump to a surprise lunch minutes after he had arrived on Air Force One.
Speaking to reporters in fluent English, Macron called Trump "a very special guest".
Trump, sitting across the small table on a terrace of the ornate Hotel du Palais, appeared to be softened by the warm, unscheduled welcome.
"So far so good. The weather is perfect. Everybody’s getting along. I think we will accomplish a lot this weekend," Trump said, praising his "special relationship" with Macron.
In addition to the global economy and fears of recession, the G7 chiefs will huddle over several hot topics, including their diverging positions on Iran’s nuclear program.
European leaders are also focusing on a push for action against fires in the Amazon rainforest, despite
Brazilian right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro’s angry response to what he sees as outside interference.
Echoing criticism from France, Tusk said Bolsonaro’s response to the "destruction of the green lungs of the Earth" was insufficient and he warned that a big EU trade deal with South America could be imperilled.
G7 leaders were greeted by protests outside Biarritz, though 13,000 police have been deployed to keep them far from view.
Organisers said 15,000 people rallied around 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the G7 gathering at the border town of Hendaye for a march over the Bidassoa River toward the Spanish town of Irun.
Red, white and green Basque flags waved above a crowd that included anti-capitalists, environmental activists as well as a few dozen of France’s "yellow vest" anti-government protesters, according to AFP journalists at the scene.
"It’s important to show that people are mobilised and do not accept the world they’re offering us," said Elise Dilet, 47, of the Basque anti-globalisation group, Bizi.
The rally has been peaceful so far, after police said 17 people were arrested as of Friday night amid clashes with protesters camped out near Hendaye.