The president did everything possible to weaken the European Union: unilateralism versus multilateralism, imposition of the law of the strongest against international organizations, trade wars versus free trade agreements.
The two greatest powers on the planet (if we understand the European Union as a bloc) were the two best allies during the last century. United States twice attended the military rescue of the Europeans – the second time with communist Russia – and since 1945 a rock solid economic, commercial and security relationship has been considered sacred.
That stability and security were blown up when the actor Donald Trump was installed in the White House, who already in the previous election campaign had warned of his intentions by supporting the supporters of “Brexit”. The European institutions watched with amazement how a possible American president applauded the first break-up of the European Union. He did not change when he won the presidential elections and continued to cheer on the Brexiters.
European leaders quickly realized that on the other side of the Atlantic, not a clown populist had come to power but someone who seemed to have an agenda that went against the European: unilateralism against multilateralism, imposition of the law of the strongest against international organizations, trade wars against free trade agreements.
In the commercial relationship with Europe, his pulse did not tremble. As soon as Washington imposed the first tariffs on European products, the European Commission loosed its fist and responded with trade retaliation on the same level. It happened three times, until they heard the message in Washington.
The European Union is the largest trade bloc on the planet and in this matter it has plenty of tools to defend its interests. But, like Achilles, he has weaknesses, mainly in terms of security. And that’s where the next attack came, which in Brussels was experienced as one more boast. Trump, at a NATO summit in the Belgian capital – he had said that Brussels was “a hell hole” – he publicly abhorred European leaders and called them “criminals” because according to him they don’t spend enough on military means. The American even threatened to remove his country from NATO, a rupture that would have generated a crisis difficult to fix.
Soon after, in May 2018, Trump decided remove your country from the nuclear deal with Iran, a pact that European diplomacy is proud of and that had made it possible to ensure that the Iranian regime does not develop nuclear weapons. The Europeans this time did respond and set up an economic structure that in principle should have allowed European companies to continue their activities in Iran. Washington threatened to sanction them and most ran out of Iran.
Trump has sometimes said that the European Union was founded to “take advantage” of the United States and has always tried to negotiate bilaterally with Europeans, one by one and not through the EU, so that relations were not equal. equal but from superior to inferior. Europeans have been able to resist, defending for example the Paris Agreement on the fight against the climate crisis, from which Trump also removed his country.
The White House’s poor relationship with European governments was compounded when the US president began to support and applaud European ultra-right leaders, leaders of openly xenophobic parties, many times Islamophobic and sometimes even anti-Semitic. The Republican Party invited a delegation of deputies and MEPs to follow, from October 30 until this Wednesday, the US elections. All the members of that delegation are from far-right parties: Jordan Bardella of France, Jaak Madison of Estonia, Peter Kofod Poulsen of Denmark and Georg Mayer and Harald Vilimsky of Austria.
Europeans have learned these last four years that the transatlantic relationship is no longer a bipartisan policy in Washington and that they cannot depend on who governs in the United States, so they will have to take steps to expand their strategic autonomy and reinforce all their commercial tools and to defend their place in the world whoever the tenant of the Oval Office is. The German Chancellor Heiko Maas put it this way, setting a minimum objective: “Whatever the outcome of the presidential election, we have to think about how we can contain the conflicts in our neighborhood without counting on the help of the United States “.