German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that Europe must take on more responsibility and continue to stick to its open trade policy amid changes to the trans-Atlantic relationship under the new administration of US President Donald Trump.
Merkel, who flies to Washington, DC next week to meet with Trump, told the German Parliament that Europe "must be able to have an independent crisis management in our region" — not in competition, but in addition to NATO.
Merkel said that despite the current changes in the US, the "trans-Atlantic partnership based upon our values and interests" is of overriding importance for Europeans — and that "this is the spirit" in which she would lead her talks with Trump in Washington.
Indirectly referring to Trump's isolationist economic leanings, she said "even if in parts of the world we see protectionist and nationalist approaches on the rise, Europe may never isolate, seal itself off or withdraw."
Europe needs to be especially open-minded when it comes to trade policy, the chancellor said ahead of a trip to Brussels to attend a European Union summit.
Trump has vowed to take a tougher line in forging deals and slapping tariffs on nations that are deemed to exploit the United States.
On other European issues, Merkel told lawmakers the EU still needs to do more to lower youth unemployment in some of the bloc's 28 member countries and work harder on improving the overall migrant situation in and outside the EU.
She pointed out that the number of migrants drowning as they try to cross the Aegean had gone down dramatically, but that there was still more to do to protect the EU's outer borders and curtail illegal trafficking.