European Council President Donald Tusk. Picture: REUTERS
European Council President Donald Tusk. Picture: REUTERS

Brussels — The EU must cope with the "capricious assertiveness" of US President Donald Trump like it has to deal with the rise of China and Russian aggression, EU President Donald Tusk said on Wednesday.

"Looking at the latest decisions of President Trump, some could even say that ‘With friends like that, who needs enemies?"’ Tusk told reporters before a summit of EU leaders in Sofia.

The EU’s 28 leaders are due to discuss two problems Trump has left them with: his decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, and the US threat to impose tariffs on metal imports. While the EU says these are two distinct topics, leaders are likely to lump them together in a wide-ranging private discussion over dinner about how to deal with the Trump administration.

Tusk said the US’s move to impose trade penalties on security grounds was "absurd" as the EU is a core American ally and not a threat. "We need to bring reality back into this discussion," he said.

All the same, "Europe should be grateful for President Trump because thanks to him we have got rid of all illusions" that the EU can rely on others for help, Tusk said. "Europe must do everything in its power to protect, in spite of today’s mood, the transatlantic bond, but at the same time we must be prepared for scenarios where we’ll have to act on our own."