The threat posed by Donald Trump's administration has been likened to that of China and Russian Federation by Donald Tusk as he condemned the US's withdrawal from the Iran deal and threat of a transatlantic trade war. EU President Donald Tusk started the summit by lashing out at Donald Trump.
Mr Tusk said: "Besides traditional political challenges, such as the rise of China or the aggressive stance of Russian Federation, we are witnessing today a new phenomenon: the capricious assertiveness of the American administration".
The 28 European Union leaders meeting in Sofia were not expected to reach any quick conclusions on how to try to shield their economic cooperation with Iran.
French energy giant Total joined other European companies in signaling on Wednesday they could exit Iran, casting doubt on whether European leaders meeting to try to salvage the Iran nuclear deal can safeguard trade with Tehran.
That came a day after many European newspapers featured dueling photographs on their front pages: the beaming visage of first daughter Ivanka Trump opening the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, and the smoky carnage an hour's drive away in Gaza, where scores of Palestinian protesters were killed by the Israeli military. The head of the bloc's executive, Jean-Claude Juncker of the European Commission, will also present options the leaders have to shield European investments in Iran and the slowly-reviving economic cooperation, which many EU states hope to benefit from.
"Looking at the latest decisions of President Trump, someone could even think 'with friends like that, who needs enemies?' But frankly speaking, Europe should be grateful by President Trump, because thanks to him we have got rid of all illusions".
Tusk also called for the European Union to unite "economically, politically and militarily, like never before".More news: Porn-star hush money: No respite for Trump
"The broader US-EU security relationship is at risk", a former US envoy to the EU, Anthony Gardner, told the European Parliament on Wednesday.
Merkel however said that Europe had no choice but to stick with the ties that have bound it to Washington since World War II.
President Hassan Rouhani said Trump had expected Iran to leave the deal after the USA withdrawal, but Tehran had refused to follow that plan by trying to save the deal with its remaining signatories.
"The extra-territorial dimension of United States sanctions is unacceptable".
Behind their message of unity and firmness, some member states seem open to tolerating limited quotas from the United States on metals imports while others want a harder line, diplomats said.
The EU has called for "utmost restraint" after Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinians during clashes and protests along the Gaza border against the opening of the USA embassy in Jerusalem, in the conflict's bloodiest day in years.
But Europeans are increasingly exasperated by the way Trump is steering USA policy, objecting not only to his stances but also to what they say is erratic policymaking that switches on the whim of Fox News programmers.