Time to step up, EU! Brussels warned Angela Merkel has cost bloc’s reputation in US

Joe Biden realises Europe is ‘indispensable partner’ says expert

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Mr Ischinger, who will be chairing the Munich Security Conference (MSC) on February 19, said faster decision-making at the EU level and better military commitment to NATO must be at the core of future EU policies if Brussels wants to restore its reputation in the US.

Speaking to DW News, the former German ambassador also hit out at German Chancellor Angela Merkel, arguing her party has failed to address the topics of security and foreign policies which America holds dear.

He asked: “What can we do to make Americans understand that working closely with Europe, protecting Europe, is actually a good idea?”

Mr Ischinger said the German leader had failed to address NATO’s nuclear sharing policies in the name of the bloc under the pretence Europe is now safe.

The CDU leader will resign in September when Germans will go back to the polls to elect their new Chancellor.

Mr Ischinger said: “I hope foreign policy will be part of the election campaign.

“Four years ago it wasn’t.”

Despite Mrs Merkel’s strong support to the European project, the Chancellor has fallen short in addressing security cooperations with the EU’s transatlantic partners, he added.

He continued: “It is wrong for German politicians to keep telling the citizens that we now live in paradise after reunification because we are now only surrounded by friends.

“That is a cliche.

“It gives us the illusion of permanent safety.”

The veteran diplomat said Germany must understand Italy and Poland’s strategic concerns if it wants to properly address security at a European level.

Referring to instability stretching from Mali to Libya, Syria to Ukraine, he added: “We are surrounded by a ring of fire.”

Both US President Joe Biden and the German Chancellor will be present at the “special edition” of the virtual MSC.

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The leaders of NATO, the United Nations, and major voices in global health and climate action will also participate.

Former US President Donald Trump strongly undermined the NATO alliance and threatened sanctions and tariffs against his allies on the continent.

Mr Ischinger said: “We have learned in a shocking way that there is no such thing as a permanent, long-term guarantee that the US will always have our back.

“Intelligent Europeans will have to deal with the question: What if in four years’ time a president gets elected who runs in the tracks of Donald Trump?

“Trust is the currency of diplomacy. In the absence of trust, you’re not going to achieve much. And that has been the problem with our relationship during the Trump years.”

Earlier this month, President Biden said rebuilding trust with allies will be at the core of his administration’s foreign policy.

He said: “America’s alliances are our greatest asset, and leading with diplomacy means standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and key partners once again.

“There’s no longer a bright line between foreign and domestic policy.

“Every action we take in our conduct abroad, we must take with American working families in mind.”

Mr Ischinger also said the EU was “light years” away from French President Emmanuel Macron’s vision of “strategic autonomy”.

He argued that the bloc should instead simply strengthen its capability and take more responsibility in the world.

He said: “The way we should present this issue [to European voters] is that we’re not doing this for the United States.

“We’re not doing it for Donald Trump or even Joe Biden. We’re doing it for ourselves.

“We need to take care of our own security to the extent that is possible.”

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