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Angela Merkel issued a call for EU unity in the face of criticism from Donald Trump ahead of a summit on the future of the bloc in Malta.

“Europe has its fate in its own hands,” said the German chancellor. “The more we are clear about how we define our role in the world, the better we can also take care of our transatlantic relations.”

The new US administration loomed over the summit, following Mr Trump’s comments in which he labelled the EU a “vehicle for Germany” and openly questioned whether the EU will or should survive – seemingly reversing decades of US foreign policy on the topic.

Austrian chancellor Christian Kern echoed the concerns of many leaders arriving for the talks. “Today we have pretty mixed feelings, to be honest, because the tangible aspects of Mr. Trumps policy raise some concerns,” he said

Theresa May will update EU leaders on her impressions of Mr Trump after her meeting with the US president last month. Luxembourg’s prime minister Xavier Bettel said: “I will listen to her. But what has happened the last few days [in the US] are not the values I fight for in politics.”

Earlier this morning European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said Mr Trump needs to better explain his position on the EU, and suggested that his new administration “does not know the EU in detail”.

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