Sunday

18th Feb 2018

Trump win could be 'end of era' in EU-US ties

  • The Trump presidency "could be something insane, or it could be down to earth" (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Trump supporters in the US and in Europe began celebrating at about 5:30am Brussels time in an outcome that plunges world affairs into uncertainty.

The celebrations came when the state of Florida chose the Republican Party candidate, a volatile property tycoon, over the Democratic Party’s Hillary Clinton, a former secretary of state.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • “Nato is used to elections, [they] happen all the time,” Lute said (Photo: nato.it)

The result was confirmed at 8:35am, when Trump crossed the finishing line with 276 votes in the so-called electoral college.

He sounded a conciliatory note in his victory speech despite having run a divisive campaign.

“We will get along with all other nations, willing to get along with us”, he said.

“While we will always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone … we will seek common ground, not hostility, partnership, not conflict”, he added.

At the US mission to the EU in Brussels, Anthony Gardner, the ambassador, said: “I believe in the power of this US-EU relationship to do good in the world. That won’t change. I continue believing in that.”

He urged moderates in the US and in Europe “to speak out with passionate intensity”.

“Many elections coming up in Europe. We will face a common challenge of understanding how our politics have changed. They clearly have changed. We need to understand why,” he said.

Douglas Lute, the US ambassador to Nato, played down Trump’s anti-Nato remarks during the campaign.

“Nato is used to elections, [they] happen all the time,” he said.

“I’m confident … Nato will remain a cornerstone of American foreign policy with bipartisan support,” he added.

Reactions from Europe were less cheerful.

Germany's defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, told German radio that Europe would have to ask Trump: “Do you stand by the [Nato] alliance?”

Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French foreign minister, said on French radio that he was “worried” about future US ties.

Other diplomats spoke out in less guarded terms.

In posts on Twitter that were later deleted, the French ambassador to the US, Gerard Araud, wrote: “After Brexit and this election, everything is possible. The world is collapsing before our eyes. Vertigo.”

And later, he wrote: “It’s the end of an era - that of neoliberalism. Who knows what comes next?”

Michael McFaul, a former US ambassador to Moscow, said: “I have never been so depressed about the future of America than right now”.

Bigger than Brexit

Anti-EU and anti-immigrant politicians in Europe reacted to the news of a fellow populist in the White House with glee.

“Congratulations to the new president of the United States Donald Trump and to the people of the US, [who are] free,” said Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front party.

Beatrix von Storch, from Germany’s far-right AfD party, said: “It’s an historic victory. It’s a surprise only for the establishment.”

Geert Wilders, the Dutch anti-EU agitator, said: “The people are taking their country back. So will we”.

Nigel Farage, a British MEP who led the campaign for the UK to leave the EU, said: “I thought Brexit was big, but this looks like it’s going to be even bigger”.

The outcome, as in the Brexit referendum in June, confounded polls, which had predicted a Clinton win, and jolted markets around the world.

Japan held emergency talks on how to stabilise the situation after the Nikkei stock exchange index fell 6 percent.

US markets contracted by 5 percent and the dollar fell against the yen and the euro.

The Mexican peso also plunged, with Paul Krugman, a Nobel-winning US economist, saying: “We are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight.”

In terms of international reaction, China had, earlier in the night, begun positioning itself for a Trump victory.

If Trump took office it would end "self-damaging competition" between China and the US, an op-ed in the Chinese state-controlled Global Times said on Wednesday.

Many Russians took to social media to celebrate the Trump win, amid hope that he would end sanctions on Russia and recognise its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Want to wretch?

The outcome puts some EU leaders, who had criticised him in undiplomatic terms, in a difficult position.

During the campaign, French president Francois Hollande had said that Trump’s “excesses make you want to retch”.

He also warned at the time: “It [a Trump victory] could lead to a very strong turn to the right in the world ... the American campaign shows issues that will be reflected in the French [presidential] campaign [in 2017].”

Aside from political fallout, the outcome is unlikely to see change in US foreign policy until mid-2017 at the earliest - after Trump has been sworn in and has settled at the White House.

The best scenario for Europe is that Trump surrounds himself with senior figures from the Republican Party, who continue US policy more or less unchanged on Nato, Russia, and the Middle East.

Even that scenario involves the likely death of EU-US free trade talks and of the Paris climate accord, however.

The worst scenario is that he uses his sweeping powers on foreign policy to launch a military adventure.

A negative scenario could also see him strike a grand bargain with Russia on spheres of influence in Europe, emboldening Kremlin revanchism, or pull the US out of Nato, ending 70 years of Western strategic alliance.

’Totally unpredictable’

Steven Blockmans, a Belgian scholar at the Ceps think tank in Brussels, said the radical scenarios were less likely.

He said there was a consensus on both sides of the Atlantic that “in an increasingly complex and contested world, Europe remains a crucial ally for the US on a wide range of issues.”

“Both are status quo powers interested in adherence to existing global governance institutions and international law, while seeking to maintain their strategic edge over the rest of the world”, he said.

He warned that if Europe was to have any leverage on Trump then “EU institutions and member states would have to act together” in future.

Judy Dempsey, an expert with the Carnegie Europe think tank in Berlin, also said EU leaders would have to find “a new modus vivendi” with the US after Trump's win.

Trump in his campaign speeches, had praised Russian leader Vladimir Putin, but Jonathan Eyal, a security expert at the Rusi think tank in London, said he could end up taking a tough line on Russia.

“Trump’s not the Manchurian Candidate,” Eyal said, referring to a Cold War-era film about a US president who was brainwashed by Soviet spies.

Andras Simonyi, a Hungarian diplomat who heads a faculty on transatlantic relations at the Johns Hopkins University in Washington, said Trump was “totally unpredictable” at this stage.

“It [his presidency] could be something insane, or it could be down to Earth,” he said.

Feature

What would a Trump victory mean for the EU?

A Trump win would cause cold sweats in Europe's chancelleries, but his foreign policy might not be as radical or as pro-Russian as his rhetoric.

EU leaders invite Trump to Brussels

Juncker and Tusk invite Trump to EU capital "at earliest convenience", mention climate change and Ukraine among top issues.

EU warns Turkey over 'threat' to Cyprus

The European Commission called on Ankara to refrain from doing "damage to good neighbourly relations", after Turkish vessels stop a rig from reaching a gas drilling zone.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel: Nord Stream 2 pipeline poses 'no danger'
  2. Spanish king in Barcelona next week
  3. Turkey jails journalists for life
  4. Make budget cuts in farm and regional funds, the Dutch say
  5. UN: Hungary's anti-migration bill is 'assault on human rights'
  6. Journalist Deniz Yucel freed in Turkey
  7. New organic farming bill not ready until late spring
  8. Commissioner: Western Balkans in EU is 'obvious'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  2. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  3. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  4. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  6. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  7. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name
  8. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  9. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  10. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  11. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  12. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections

Latest News

  1. EU asks charities to explain anti-abuse measures
  2. ECB, Budget, EU elections This WEEK
  3. EU states stay mute on implementation of mercury bill
  4. Baltic states demand bigger EU budget
  5. Germany raises concerns over Hungary's 'Stop Soros' bills
  6. EU ties Brexit transition talks to divorce agreement
  7. EU divided over Western Balkan enlargement
  8. Facebook and Twitter weak on protecting users, says EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  3. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  4. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  6. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  8. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC President Warns Europe as Holocaust Memory Fades
  10. European Free AlllianceNo Justice From the Spanish Supreme Court Ruling
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  12. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  4. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  5. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  6. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  7. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  8. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  9. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted
  10. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  11. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  12. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel