Thursday 19 April 2018

Obama snub sets EU alarm bells ringing

Vanessa Mock in Brussels

IN A humiliating blow that set alarm bells ringing in Madrid and Brussels yesterday, US President Barack Obama has announced that he will not attend an EU summit that was supposed to be a grand launch for the Europe's new leadership.

It was hoped the May summit would help to bolster the first-ever EU president's standing on the world stage, and by extension Europe's. But Mr Obama's cancellation, ostensibly due to an overloaded domestic agenda, has torpedoed that aim -- and drawn attention to a messy power struggle in the EU. "Obama turns his back on Europe," declared 'El Pais', Spain's leading newspaper, echoing widespread unease over the perceived snub.

Some diplomats blamed Spanish Prime Minister Jose-Luis Zapatero for his insistence on holding the meeting in Madrid, instead of at the EU headquarters in Brussels. Spain holds the rotating EU presidency and has mapped out a summit-laden programme for its six-month term, instead of graciously relinquishing power to the office of the new EU president, Herman van Rompuy.

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