16:49 GMT +312 December 2018
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    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg holds up a ceremonial hammer at the start of a NATO-Georgia defence ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 16, 2017.

    Tusk Warns 'Immense Pressure' From Trump May Lead to NATO Collapse – Reports

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    The European Union should boost its defenses and be able to act independently of the United States, the 29-member bloc’s leaders said in a summit statement, released earlier in the day.

    During a summit dinner, the president of the European Council laid out his concerns that the “immense pressure” the Trump administration is exerting on the North Atlantic Alliance could lead to its collapse.

    “Despite our tireless efforts to keep the unity of the West, transatlantic relations are under immense pressure due to the policies of President Trump,” he said.

    READ MORE: Payback Time? Trump Reportedly Urging UK to Contribute More to NATO Budget

    According to The Times, Tusk called on EU leaders to “go beyond” discussions on US steel and aluminum tariffs and consider a potential break-up of NATO.

    “Unfortunately, the divisions go beyond trade. It is my belief that while hoping for the best we must be ready to prepare our union for worst-case scenarios,” he said.

    Trump’s remarks at the G7 summit earlier this month, where he said that NATO was “as bad as NAFTA” and was “too costly for the US,” have spread fears throughout Europe that he could use next month’s alliance meeting in Brussels to cut defense funding. After instructing US representatives not to sign the G7 joint communiqué, he linked European trade surpluses with the US to NATO’s future.

    This has prompted heated discussions among EU leaders, who will reportedly agree to boost defense spending and bolster cooperation in order to reduce their dependence on American support for NATO.

    “Europe must take greater responsibility for its own security. The union is therefore taking steps to bolster European defense, by enhancing defense investment, capability development and operational readiness,” The Times cited a draft communiqué as reading.

    Transatlantic relations hit their lowest point after Donald Trump accused his partners of taking advantage of the US in terms of trade. Disagreements between the US and the EU have intensified since Washington imposed a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports.

    The union struck back with tit-for-tat tariffs, having adopted a law targeting $3.2 billion worth of US products, including motorbikes, speedboats, denim jeans, cigarettes, etc.

    READ MORE: We Heard Trump's Unhappy: UK Sets Cost of Strong US, NATO Ties & It's 3% of GDP

    Trump has repeatedly stressed that the other members of NATO should pay their "fair share" and pointed out that only five of the 29 member states were allocating 2 percent of their GDP to defense, which was “insufficient to close gaps in modernizing, readiness and the size of forces."

    Tags:
    US import tariffs, import tariffs, tariffs, spending, summit, collapse, military, defense, trade, G7 summit 2018, G7 Summit, NATO, Donald Trump, Donald Tusk, EU, United States
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