In the end it was not mean to be. As discussed on Friday, during Trump’s first G-7 summit, world leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and new French President Emmanuel Macron, had hoped to persuade the the US president to endorse the Paris Agreement climate pledge to fight global warming. By the end of the summit – held at a luxury hotel in Taormina, Sicily that was once a Dominican monastery and base for the Nazi air force during World War Two – they realized they had failed, as Trump “underscored his determination to break the global mold” by refusing to follow the Group of Seven line not only on global warming but also by resisting measures on trade.
Furthermore, in what was described as an “unprecedented step“, the final G-7 communique gave the U.S. its own section to say that it is “undergoing a review process” and is unable to join in the discussion, an official cited by Bloomberg said. As a result while the US will remain excluded from the final affirmation, the other six, call it the G-6, will recommit to the Paris Agreement on climate change, which Trump tweeted Saturday he’d come to a decision on next week.
Needless to say, Merkel who had hoped to leave the Saturday summit with the G-7 agenda endorsed by everyone, including Trump, was furious at the US president.
“The whole discussion about climate has been difficult, or rather very unsatisfactory” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters Saturday. “Here we have the situation that six members, or even seven if you want to add the EU, stand against one. That means there are no signals until now whether the U.S. will remain in the Paris Agreement or not. We have therefore not talked around it but made clear that we the six member states and the EU remain committed to the goals of the agreement.”
The unhappy German continued: “The fact that we have not been able to make progress here is of course a situation in which you have to say that there is no common support for an important international agreement. This Paris Agreement is not simply any old agreement, but it’s rather a core agreement.”
She concluded by noting the unprecedented breach of agreement within the ranks, perhaps a first in G-7 history “There is right now no agreement. But we have made very clear that we are not moving away from our positions.”
Moments later, the final declaration released a just as stunning statement, which said that the U.S. was “not in a position to join consensus” on climate change.
To be sure, its wasn’t just Merkel who was displeased with Trump. According to Politico, while he avoided any major gaffes or serious diplomatic breaches, Trump’s lack of rapport with European leaders raises serious questions about his ability to effectively team up with critical U.S. allies.
“Like when there’s a new strange kid in the class nobody likes,” said a senior EU official who was briefed on the closed NATO meetings in Brussels. “You behave civilly when teachers (media) watch but don’t spend time with him in private because he’s so different.”
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Trump’s inability to integrate with European leaders aside, there was at least some G-7 concensus on trade, after government officials were said to have found an agreement after haggling over wording on protectionism and reciprocal benefits, Bloomberg reported. Technical negotiations had stretched until 3 a.m. in Taormina to try to reconcile Trump’s ‘America First’ approach with the other leaders’ commitment to open markets. The result is a reference to combating protectionism to be included in the final text, according to two of the officials. Still, said the third, the document in its current draft clearly falls back by comparison to earlier G-7 communiques.
The leaders “found a reasonable solution” on trade that commits to a rules-based system, Merkel said. “We want to make the WTO successful,” she said.
Speaking to reporters on the G-7’s trade decision, Merkel said “we had very tough discussions about trade. Here I think we have found a reasonable solution. We commit ourselves to a rules- based trade system. We want to make the WTO successful. We will together keep our markets open and will move against protectionism, but will at the same time fight against unfair trade practices. This is also in the German interest when I think about the question of steel.”
According to Bloomberg, the discussions, described by Merkel as “very intense” late on Friday, “underscore the Trump administration’s decision to break with the established order honed over decades. Trump told his fellow leaders on Friday that he had campaigned on a platform of protecting U.S. jobs and would act accordingly, according to the officials, all of whom asked not to be named discussing the private meetings.”
But the best indication of the hit globalization took over the past 48 horus, was the actual content of the final G-7 communique, which was just six pages long compared to 32 pages last year. While much was dropped from the final draft, the text will contain a passage on migration, which it refers to as “human mobility.” It includes a sentence which says that nations also have the right to protect their security, while observing human rights.