Europe and UK after Trump



By Syed Qamar Rizvi.


Seen from the post US-election 2016, much seems in opaque about the US-EU relations. There appears no doubt to predict that under the new administration of Donald Trump, transatlantic relationship would face new frontiers of challenges. Apart from myriad other corollaries, EU has ostensibly appeared on the face of the globe on the most critical position of the US elections. Europe is already at loggerheads with each other on the refugee dilemma and when it is combined with the simmering knots of economic and demographic challenges, the situation appears to be too critical.

The political pundits and analysts in international relations are discussing the victory of Donald Trump in comparison with the coalitions and group formations early in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, however, on thing that has to be kept in mind is that now the global scenario has been changed out rightly in all aspects. The expectations of the public in general in terms of economic advancements have shooten up. The influx of information technology, communication and media advances have changed the mindset of the people in one way or the other. In this context, it may be observed that if the organizations, coalitions or political or economic configurations do come up with symmetry of the popular electoral inclinations, the outcome turns out to be Brexit.

The departing President of the US has emblazoned the flourishing democracies in Europe and the array of similarities that have converted the transatlantic relations into a bliss. Nonetheless, the European media is being sceptic about the same line of role by the US, after the Trump entry. Though the contribution of the United States, has been outstanding (sometimes for its own political and economic motives) in the European arena, specially after the two world wars, after the abatement of Communism and then the restructuring of the East European countries, in addition to the settlement of the political issues around Balkan peninsula.

In spite of all that has been said, the most important point that is roaming in the minds of many Americans  (which is revealed in the recent American elections) is that the American Economy can’t afford to promote, protect and sustain democracies all around the globe, that too at the cost of American tax payer’s bucks. This is the core point, whereby Donald Trump has been able to convince the people that the post war alliances, may be that military ones or the political, would be given a rethinking, a reconsideration.

In this way, the American nationalism has come up with a new vigor and zeal, rejecting the idea of constant sticking to the agendas in Western Europe. The same views have also been expressed and endorsed by European powers themselves, especially Germany. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, remarked “The Americans will not see to Europe’s security forever.

We have to do it ourselves,” he said in a speech in Berlin. Former US Ambassador to Germany John Kornblum also expressed the same thoughts in an essay published by the German journalism consortium RND. “The American umbrella over Europe is gone forever. Trump’s election marks the end of the postwar order.” Apart from all these factors, the caution of the then-European Central Bank Chairman Jean-Claude Trichet warned that Europe was as tense as before World War I or II was worthy of given a thorough consideration. In addition to this, Germany also decided to endeavor its re-militarization drive, so that it might get itself free from the clutches of United States to initiate any military operation.

And while Trump often contradicts himself, as Thomas Wright of the Brookings Institution has demonstrated, a core consistency has animated his understanding of foreign policy for decades. There are three pillars of his foreign policy thinking from which he has never wavered. The first is the idea that America is getting a bad deal from its allies; the second is that the American approach to free trade has impoverished American workers and weakened the United States; and the third is that as a strong leader he can secure better deals with authoritarian strongmen than by working cooperatively with European allies.

Trump is set on securing a better deal from US allies. A better deal, in Trump’s version of the transatlantic alliance, involves European allies like Germany paying for the privilege of American protection. If they fail to meet their “obligations”, they will not be defended. More than this, Trump’s view is that allies should not need American protection at all. He will expect Europe to shoulder the burden for dealing with conflicts that are primarily European problems, such as the war in Ukraine and the refugee crisis.

Trump had fervently endorsed the Brexit campaign during the UK’s EU referendum, thus distancing himself from the Obama administration’s stated preference for a strong and united EU. Obama seems affirmed that the UK could not expect favourable treatment upon leaving the EU and would instead be at the back of the queue for a trade deal, with TPP and TTIP given priority.

Trump’s protectionist rhetoric and stances on major trade deals should give cause for concern about whether Trump will be committed to putting the UK to the front of the queue for a deal. Even if he does, there is every reason to expect that he will play hardball; Trump will be able to utilize the leverage of the US’s economic strength to ensure that the deal favors US interests, and his background as a businessman suggests that he will not allow sentimentality to result in unnecessary concessions to the UK. The British government needs to remember that it is now in a weaker negotiating situation than it was when part of the EU, and that they need the deal much more than the US does.


What Next?

Recent Articles