Maltese PM Joseph Muscat said the EU should take on leadership of the world
Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat said the election of the new US President gave Europe the “opportunity for leadership it has always craved” and urged the bloc to unleash a foreign policy blitz.
He claimed countries around the world will be “looking” to Brussels for leadership in the aftermath of Mr Trump’s shock victory, which has been followed by a slew of controversial policy announcements.
Mr Muscat spoke as European leaders prepare to gather in his home country’s capital city, Valetta, for what will be the final meeting of the EU Council before Britain triggers Article 50.
Brexit and Mr Trump’s controversial ‘Muslim ban’ are likely to be hot topics of discussion at the informal get together, whilst bringing immigration under control is top of the agenda.
EU leaders will meet in the Maltese capital Valetta today and tomorrow
Donald Trump has alarmed Europe with his immigration and trade policies
Speaking today Mr Muscat, who holds extra clout whilst his tiny island home holds the rotating EU presidency, said Europe’s anger at the new US President must not translatee into “anti-Americanism”.
In an interview with euractiv, he said: “The EU has to decide whether it is coming of age or not. That is the real big challenge ahead. Do we want to be the first of the followers or the leader?
“I do see this…as an opportunity for Europe to gain the leadership role that it has always craved for.
“There is an obvious vacuum where countries around the world are looking for leadership and this is an occasion that comes once in a couple of generations that Europe has now.”
Mr Muscat told the website that European leaders and voters should “take exception with the administration” of Mr Trump and not forget that the US has been a long-time ally of Brussels.
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And he added that the EU must give out a message that it is “ready to be a key player” by pursuing an ambitious foreign policy, including sealing a free trade deal with China.
But he lamented: “I do not think we should be rubbing our hands with glee. In fact, I think it is sad that such a man has been elected president of the United States and a situation that we would rather not be experiencing.”
The Maltese PM’s insistence that Europe must take more action on the global stage may also be seen as a plea to fellow EU leaders not to let the bloc be taken over by post-Brexit Britain.
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Mon, January 30, 2017
President Trump signed an executive order banning immigration to the USA from seven 'muslim' countries. This led to protests across America and, now, the UK.
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People demonstrate during a protest at Downing Street in central London against US President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban on refugees and people from seven mainly-Muslim countries
Eurocrats have been alarmed at the way the UK has embraced the rest of the world following the June 23 vote, reaffirming old ties and putting agreements for trade deals in place.
Brussels has watched on hopelessly as Theresa May and trade secretary Liam Fox have toured the globe drumming up business for Britain, and will be desperate to strike a big success to prove the EU’s continued relevance.
Spooked officials yesterday announced plans to accelerate trade talks with Mexico in light of Brexit and Mr Trump’s election, and Germany is pressuring Brussels to tie up a raft of agreements to seal a publicity coup for the troubled bloc.