Tuesday

22nd Oct 2019

Opinion

When Trump makes America small, Europe must stand tall

  • Trump has promised to make America great again by turning inward. (Photo: James McNellis)

Donald Trump is certain he is going to make his country great again - by turning its back to the world, by building walls and by saying no to foreign people, goods and services. But it won't work.

Trump’s nativism is bad for the US. It will lower the living standards of the average working American by making products more expensive, cutting off supply chains and reducing specialisation and competition. It is devastating not only to the United States but to all of us.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

When the US turns inwards, it leaves a void that needs to be filled. It is not a coincidence that the star at Davos this year was Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Nor is it surprising that he seems more than willing to pick up the baton.

In his speech at the Swiss ski resort, Xi hailed and defended the globalisation that the American president scorches. Is this the face of the leader of the world economy? That would for sure have consequences for freedom and rule of law in the world.

In situations like this, we need to remind ourselves that the second largest economy in the world is not China. It is the US. The biggest one is the European Union. The most logical and well-suited actor to replace America’s leadership is Europe. When they retire, we expand.

In military terms, there is no question that the US remains number one and that Nato is still the main guarantor for peace and stability in the world. Europe is an important contributor to this organisation and needs to step up its military spending as well as show more determination and political responsibility.

In order to safeguard the world order, the West needs to display strength in both Asia and Europe. This is not about flexing muscles for the sake of vanity or power politics; it is about keeping the principles of the Westphalian system intact. In a civilised world, national borders are not changed by force.

Integration works

However, in most other areas, the EU should fill the vacuum. When it comes to trade, we should suggest new agreements with everyone from India and Pakistan to Latin America and give the signal to anyone who is interested that we are open to increased trade and that we offer access to the world’s largest market. The rest of the globe should turn to us, not to China.

Europe also needs to play a global role in everything from energy policy to human rights. We can contribute to carving out peaceful solutions to difficult disputes.

Through our foreign aid and our neighbourhood policy we can give support and push countries in the right direction. Europe has soft power and should make full use it.

Europe should be the shining city on the hill for the rest of the world, showing that liberal democracy, the rule of law, capitalism and an open society are still by far the most successful ways to go.

Furthermore, we can display decades of integration as a way to solve common problems and to avoid military confrontation. The conference rooms in Brussels are a much better option than the century-old trenches in the vicinity.

We know that global capitalism is about to eliminate poverty. We want this development to continue. We know, from our own experience, that integration works. We can contribute to peace and stability. We know that the global environment requires global solutions, that economic growth and clean water are not incompatible. For decades, the Danube was grey, but now it is blue again.

When the US goes home, Europe goes abroad. When Donald Trump turns friends into enemies, we remain friends. When he makes enemies into allies, we remain allies to our friends. Because we know this is a time when friends of freedom all need to stand together. When they go insular, we go global.

When Donald Trump is making America small, Europe needs to stand tall.

Gunnar Hoekmark is leader of the Swedish EPP delegation in the European Parliament and Member of the Committee on Economic Affairs.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Brexit Britain cannot rely on Trump's trade vows

Theresa May came away from her meeting with Donald Trump bearing the promise of a future UK-US trade pact. The pledge was rich in symbolism, but not much else.

The EU-China show will go on

China and the EU must be committed to deepen cultural understanding, foster mutual respect and willingness to work together.

EU leaders must stand up to Trump, say MEPs

MEPs have urged the EU to stand up for European values, starting with rejecting Trump's presumed choice for US ambassador, who has stated that he wants to "tame" the bloc.

News in Brief

  1. Four businessmen charged in Slovak journalist murder
  2. Erdogan accuses EU of 'standing by terrorists' in Syria
  3. Migrants riot in Maltese camp
  4. Spanish PM refuses dialogue with Catalonia president
  5. Putin: Russia will help Africa without 'conditions'
  6. Almost 200 arrests in Catalonia independence protests
  7. Report: Russian hackers used Iranian cover to attack UK
  8. Next EU economy chief calls for looser budget policies

Defending the defenders: ombudsmen need support

Ombudsmen are often coming under attack or facing different kinds of challenges. These can include threats, legal action, reprisals, budget cuts or a limitation of their mandate.

Column

The benefits of being unpopular

Paradoxically, the lack of popularity may be part of the strength of the European project. Citizens may not be super-enthusiastic about the EU, but when emotions run too high in politics, hotheads may take over.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. Macron breaks Balkans promise in quest for EU dominance
  2. Snap elections in North Macedonia after EU rejection
  3. UK opposition MPs attack new Brexit deal
  4. Deep divisions on display over post-Brexit EU budget
  5. Juncker: 'Historic mistake' against Balkan EU hopefuls
  6. EU leaders spent just 12 minutes on climate
  7. Crunch Brexit vote in UK This WEEK
  8. EU envoy sheds light on weird US diplomacy

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us