The "bromance" between French President Emmanuel Macron and his American counterpart, Donald Trump, has ended in nothing: The French president has failed to translate seemingly good relations with Trump into the revocation of US tariffs or the maintenance of the Iran nuclear by Washington.
Less than a year ago, in July 2017, Donald Trump told The New York Times that he had "a great relationship" with Emmanuel Macron: "He's a great guy. Smart. Strong. Loves holding my hand."
For his part, Macron called his extended handshakes with Trump, which were mocked by some media outlets, "a moment of truth."
"Donald Trump, the Turkish president or the Russian president see relationships in terms of a balance of power. That doesn't bother me. I don't believe in diplomacy by public abuse, but in my bilateral dialogues I won't let anything pass," Macron told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper in May 2017.
Addressing the UN General Assembly in September 2017, Macron ruled out the renegotiation of the climate deal, as Washington demanded, adding that he "profoundly respects" Trump's decision and saying that the "door will always remain open."
During his visit to Washington in April 2018 the French president "put his affection for President Donald Trump on full display," as German media outlet Spiegel Online noted. However, Macron did not convince his American counterpart to remain committed to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, or to change his mind on the tariff measures announced in March 2018.
As The Los Angeles Times wrote, although Macron's visit, which started with "kisses, hugs, and plenty of touchy-feely gestures," promised to become a success of French diplomacy, the French president came home "empty-handed."
The US-French "honeymoon" had lasted for several months prompting observers to call Macron a new rising star of European policy. It was also believed that France could replace Germany as the flagship of the European Union due to its flourishing relations with Washington.
The much-discussed "bromance" sharply ended after Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, and the eventual imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports on June 1.
As the G7 summit nears, Trump and Macron have crossed swords on Twitter with the French president going even so far as to tell Trump that "nobody is forever" and pledging to resist Washington's "hegemony."
No leader is eternal. We inherit commitments which are beyond us. We take them on. That is the life of nations. https://t.co/A72hqtvRYw— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) 7 июня 2018 г.
"The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be. Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force," Macron tweeted.
I will fight hegemony with all my strength. Hegemony is the survival of the fittest. Hegemony is the end of the rule of law. https://t.co/CcaIK65Cm5— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) 7 июня 2018 г.
The American president's response was not long in coming.
"Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers. The EU trade surplus with the US is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out. Look forward to seeing them tomorrow," Trump wrote.
Why isn’t the European Union and Canada informing the public that for years they have used massive Trade Tariffs and non-monetary Trade Barriers against the U.S. Totally unfair to our farmers, workers & companies. Take down your tariffs & barriers or we will more than match you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2018
Earlier, commenting on his phone conversation with Trump, the French president compared it with "sausage making," citing Otto von Bismarck, the famous 19th-century Prussian statesman: "As Bismarck used to say, if we explained to people how sausages were made, it's unlikely they'd keep eating them."
Meanwhile, despite his harsh rhetoric, the French leader risks remaining on the sidelines in case the EU chooses to confront Trump. It will be difficult for Macron to head an anti-Trump resistance after months of a "close friendship" with the US president. This situation may play directly into the hands of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who will return to the stage as an old Trump opponent.
EU Strikes Back
Following the imposition of 25 and 10 percent tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, respectively, the EU has signaled that it will take tit-for-tat measures.
On June 6, the European Commission announced that it would apply additional tariffs to a list of US imports worth of 2.8 billion euros ($3.29 billion), ranging from whiskey to Harley-Davidson motorbikes this July.
"The Commission expects to conclude the relevant procedure in coordination with member states before the end of June so that the new duties start applying in July," Commissioner Maros Sefcovic stated.
The bloc is going to slap 25 percent tariffs on most of the products in the list. According to Brussels, EU exports subjected to US tariffs are worth 6.4 billion euros ($7.53 billion).
As The Financial Times remarked, Brussels' measure indicates that the EU ignored Trump's earlier warning "that any countermeasures against his steel and aluminum tariffs would be met by further retaliation."
Simultaneously, the EU and Canada have launched official dispute settlement procedures in the World Trade Organization (WTO) to counter the US steel and aluminum tariffs.