POLITICS

Merkel urges EU to control their own destiny, after Trump visit, climate change decision

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday that “the past few days” have shown her that European Union nations must maintain friendships with the United States and Great Britain, but also put "our destiny into their own hands.”  

Merkel did not mention President Trump by name, but her comments have been widely interpreted as a response to the president declining to join six other countries in reaffirming their commitment to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement at the G-7 summit in Sicily that ended Sunday.

"The times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days,” Merkel said Sunday at a campaign event in Bavaria. “And that is why I can only say: We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands.”

Merkel and other foreign leaders tried to persuade Trump to join the pact that calls for reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants that are thought to contribute to climate change.

Trump, who has previously called climate change a “hoax,” said he would announce his decision on joining the accord sometime this week. The White House has argued that U.S. emissions standards are tougher than those set by China, India and others, and therefore have put American businesses at a disadvantage.

His stance had led Merkel to describe the climate talks as "very difficult, if not to say, very unsatisfactory."

Despite the divergence over climate policy and despite the Trump administration's talk of an "America first" policy and ongoing criticism of Germany for its massive trade surplus, the G-7 leaders did vow to fight protectionism, reiterating "a commitment to keep our markets open."

They also agreed to step up pressure on North Korea, to forge closer cooperation in the fight against terrorism, on the possibility of imposing more sanctions on Russia over role in the conflict in Ukraine.

Merkel also urged EU members to maintain “good neighborly relations wherever possible” with Russia and other countries, then said, “But we have to know that we have to fight for our future and our fate ourselves as Europeans. And that is what I would like to do together with you."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.