European foreign ministers, unnerved by the election of Donald Trump as president, plan to huddle on how to handle relations with the US over key issues like Iran and Russia at an emergency dinner called for Sunday night.
The European Union worked closely with the Obama administration to strike an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Friday Iran’s nuclear deal was not a bilateral agreement but a multilateral one, enshrined in a UN Security Council resolution, cnsnews.com reported.
“The Iranian deal, the nuclear deal, is not a bilateral agreement between the US and Iran,” Mogherini told CNN. “It’s a multilateral agreement that we have negotiated. I have a personal, direct responsibility as, still, the chair of the joint commission that supervises the implementation of the agreement, so I guarantee that it is fully implemented by all sides – all sides – and this is framed into a UN Security Council resolution, actually more than one.”
A few hours after Trump’s victory, Mogherini called on the bloc’s foreign-affairs ministers to hold a private dinner to discuss EU-US relations on Sunday evening in Brussels, a day ahead of a scheduled meeting.
EU foreign ministers are preparing for a possible conflict over the July 2015 nuclear deal Iran signed with six world powers.
On Monday, EU foreign ministers are set to reiterate their strong support for the full implementation of the agreement. During the campaign, Trump threatened to tear up the agreement, and Republicans, which still hold both houses of Congress, have long opposed the deal.
If the US were blamed for wrecking the agreement, it is far from certain that Europe would resume sanctions on Iran.
Some European officials are confident that Mr. Trump will focus more on ensuring strict Iranian implementation of the nuclear deal than actively unraveling the deal.
Trump’s talk of closer ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin has also raised concerns that a rapprochement between the two countries could reopen longstanding divisions within the bloc over its sanctions on Russia.
A Trump administration disengaged or withdrawn from Europe and focused on domestic issues, as some in the region fear, would also pose major difficulties for the region, which has struggled to develop a more-integrated security and defense bloc.
Senior European diplomats say the bottom line is that for the first time in decades, leading European governments have little idea what the next US president’s foreign policy will look like.
Trump and his top foreign-policy advisers have had little contact with any top European leaders and their senior officials, although German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande have both briefly spoken with Trump since the election.
In the same hours, senior European officials were already warning of more turbulent trans-Atlantic ties ahead. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Europe must prepare for a “less predictable” US foreign policy.
Perhaps the most critical challenge Europe may have to face in the medium term is how to react if a Trump presidency leads to US disengaging from Europe and its defense.
European nations have been debating proposals from Mogherini to have Europe develop more “strategic autonomy” – the ability to act independently without US acquiescence or assistance.
Europe also faces an added complication: Trump has suggested he could walk away from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its commitment to collective security if European countries fail to boost military spending. But raising their spending could further constrain the financial resources needed to realize the bloc’s common security ambitions.
“Now there is a legitimate expectation there will be a much greater level of pressure and member states are going to have to make choices,” the senior diplomat said.