German Chancellor Angela Merkel has cast further doubt on how much Europe could rely on the United States after a G7 summit over the weekend highlighted the difficulties in successfully implementing the Paris climate accord.
Speaking at a conference on sustainable development in Berlin on May 29, Merkel doubled down on comments from a day earlier, saying that while it is important to maintain friendly relations with the United States and Britain, the days of Europe relying on others "are somewhat over."
"Recent days have shown me that the times when we could rely completely on others are over to a certain extent," Merkel said, adding she was still a "convinced transatlanticist."
"We also know that we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands," she added, underlining growing frustration with U.S. President Donald Trump, especially on climate policy.
Merkel’s comments come after the G7 meeting in Sicily failed to end in a deal to uphold the Paris climate accord, while there was also a split on trade and the question of refugees.
At the same time, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel slammed Trump's "short-sighted" policies, which he said have "weakened" the West and hurt EU interests.
"Anyone who accelerates climate change by weakening environmental protection, who sells more weapons in conflict zones, and who does not want to politically resolve religious conflicts is putting peace in Europe at risk," Gabriel said.
"The short-sighted policies of the American government stand against the interests of the European Union," he said, adding that "the West has become smaller. At least it has become weaker."
Stephan Bierling, an expert on transatlantic relations at Germany’s University of Regensburg, told The Washington Post that "the belief in shared values has been shattered by the Trump administration."
"After the inauguration, everyone in Europe was hopeful that Trump would become more moderate and take into account the positions of the G7 and of NATO. But the opposite has happened. It’s as if he is still trying to win a campaign," Bierling said.
Merkel’s comments came a day after the G7 meeting in Sicily failed to end in a deal to uphold the Paris climate accord, while there was also a split on trade and the question of refugees.
During a meeting with European Union leaders in Brussels on May 26, Trump sharply criticized NATO members that have not met defense spending targets, including Germany, and reportedly complained about German auto exports.
Martin Schulz, Merkel's challenger for the chancellor job in September elections, appeared to find common ground with the German chancellor.
He told broadcaster ARD that European countries must bond ever closer together in response to Trump’s attitude.
"Europe is the answer," he said. "Stronger cooperation among the European countries at all levels is the answer to Donald Trump."
Schulz said Trump resembled an "authoritarian leader" who wants to "humiliate others."
Meanwhile, Trump, upon his return from Europe, issued an upbeat assessment of his first trip abroad as president.
"Just returned from Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!" Trump wrote on May 28 on Twitter.
With reporting by Reuters and dpa