Saturday

4th Dec 2021

Opinion

Trump says 'Europe is killing us' - are we?

Donald Trump's 5 July rally in Montana presaged the storm this week, when he is expected in Brussels for the Nato summit.

While almost no-one is holding their breath for president Trump to be presidential after last year's summit, and his G7 performance, many now agree that his visit may be worse than expected.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

His most recent comments last week truly turn the world on its head. Putin is fine - and he will be rushing to meet him in Helsinki after the summit - while Europe "is killing" the US.

Defence spending will be a top issue but non-Nato issues are poised to make their way into the Brussels summit. This is because this US president sees everything meshed together, both trade and security issues.

"They make it impossible to do business in Europe; they kill us," he tells his domestic constituency, "They kill us with Nato; they want to protect against Russia; and then they go out and make a gas deal … from Russia".

We can be sure these statements will be heard again in Brussels on Wednesday (11 July), probably followed by a warning to start paying up or face a withdrawal from Europe.

Taking Trump seriously

Over the past two years, Europe has started to take Trump's warnings seriously. Some eight Nato members will reach the two percent of GDP spending target this year, from just three in 2014, and 15 will reach the target by 2024.

However, a handful of major allies will not and Trump has sent threatening letters to a number of them - including Germany.

Europeans have therefore been lamenting, as they see the transatlantic bond reaching the brink of collapse.

However, it is time for the rest of us to face our dire reality – yes this president is not making it easy; but this should not prevent us from doing our part to save it.

First, this means coming to terms with the fact that the new wind of isolationism in the US might not go away even if Trump ceases to be president after 2020.

This is not something we can change and we will face trade issues after Trump as well. Therefore, we need to engage with Trump in a meaningful way on trade sooner rather than later.

Hundreds of billions of euros in global commerce are at stake if this spills over into tariffs on auto parts.

Brutish - but right?

Second, it means acknowledging that on some issues Trump may be brutish but he does have a point.

German taxpayers do not want to pay for southern Europe but they are perfectly fine with American taxpayers paying for European security.

At the same time, Germany expects the US to be firm and tough on Russia, while Berlin is shooting itself in the foot by allowing Russia to have greater leverage by allowing the go-ahead of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

This must change.

Finally, we need to accept that in order to preserve what we have, we will need to give the elephant in the room what he wants, a grand bargain.

This can include a commitment to reach two percent by 2024, as originally agreed.

Where that is politically difficult, allies could contribute that money into a new common Nato fund which could be used towards crisis management, training, and combatting terrorism.

In exchange, Trump would unequivocally commit to Article 5 [on mutual defence] and stop toying with European security.

Germany would adopt a holistic approach to security and stop Russia's Nord Stream 2.

Yes, this would imply accepting liquified natural gas from America, but, in exchange, the US would stop its trade war and engage with the EU on free trade instead of closing in on itself.

The bottom line is that, right now, Trump finds it easy to argue that "Europe is killing us".

If we want to keep the Transatlantic bond from cracking, the rest of us need to deprive him of this argument.

Harry Nedelcu is an associate of Rasmussen Global - a political consultancy founded in 2014 by the former secretary general of Nato, Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Disclaimer

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

Agenda

Trump rides back in to Europe This WEEK

Trump is back in the EU, amid fresh doubt on Nato and Russia, while the immigration crisis and Brexit dominate internal European affairs.

Analysis

Trump befriends Conte, depresses EU

Most EU leaders found US president Donald Trump "depressing" at the G7, but one of them - Italy's Giuseppe Conte - made a new friend.

Covid: what Germany got right - and wrong

Objectively speaking, German politicians have earned a good report card for their management of the corona pandemic so far. Why then is there so much anger about the national coronavirus response?

My 6-point plan for Belarus, by former Lithuanian PM

The suggestions below were put on paper after the inspiring and intensive consultations held in Strasbourg last week with the exiled Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, her team and MEP friends of democratic Belarus in the European Parliament.

News in Brief

  1. Covid: Belgium might close schools and cultural activities
  2. EU consumers can sue Facebook, judge advised
  3. French centre-right tilts toward Pécresse
  4. EU urged to blacklist Israeli spyware firm
  5. Austria's ex-chancellor Kurz quits politics
  6. EU agency: Omicron to be over half of infections 'within months'
  7. New German restrictions target the unvaccinated
  8. EU commission unveils proposal to digitalise justice systems

This 'Black Friday' is a turning point in corporate accountability

Much supply-chain abuse remains hidden from plain sight – not only to consumers but to the companies themselves, who have built increasingly longer, more complicated, and more opaque supply chains, which have become harder to monitor, control and account for.

The South China Sea should be of concern to Europe

If China is allowed unimpeded to break the law of the sea in the South China Sea, think about the repercussions elsewhere. It could ricochet into Europe's High North. In the Arctic, Nordic nations have overlapping claims with Russia.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. Belgium tightens Covid rules as health system 'is cracking'
  2. EU and US tighten screw on Lukashenko
  3. Belgian impasse leaves asylum seekers on snowy streets
  4. EU 'missed chance' to set fossil-fuel subsidies deadline
  5. EU energy ministers clash amid gas price uncertainty
  6. ECJ told to dismiss Poland and Hungary rule-of-law challenge
  7. Covid: what Germany got right - and wrong
  8. Quick Take: Enrico Letta

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us