Sunday

18th Nov 2018

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

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

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

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.

US steps in to clean up Cyprus

Cyprus has overlooked undertakings on bank probity made to the EU in the context of the 2013 bailout - but it might prove harder to get the US off its back.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Why 'Spitzenkandidat' is probably here to stay

The power of the parliament to 'appoint' the president of the EU Commission is new, highly-contested - and not universally understood. In fact, even some of the lead candidates to replace Jean-Claude Juncker are against it.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us