Crossroads: A ‘Difficult Moment’ In Transatlantic Relations
November 11, 2016
European Parliament President Martin Schulz summed up the feeling in Europe when he said yesterday that Donald Trump’s victory constituted a “difficult moment” in EU-US relations. That may be particularly true around trade and security alliances.
Europe’s trade policy was already in serious trouble. The proposed EU-U.S. trade agreement (TTIP) was facing serious headwinds, and the Trump win makes achieving that deal even less likely. On the positive side of the ledger, Trump‘s win has stirred hopes in the UK that Washington may be supportive of London in the impending Brexit negotiations, and prioritize a trade deal with the UK over one with the EU.
The Polish View
It is hard to anticipate how Trump’s election will influence Russian foreign policy, but many Europeans fear it will encourage Putin’s adventurism abroad. As our Poland affiliate writes,
“The outcome of the election in the US will be seen in Poland primarily from the perspective of security…. The U.S. presence in Europe… is the cornerstone of Polish security policy. Therefore, the willingness of the U.S. to defend its European allies is vital for Poland and its neighbours, unsettled by the Russian aggression on Ukraine.
“Trump said that the U.S. would defend its allies if they fulfilled their obligations to America. It remains unclear what he meant, but Poland is one of just a few NATO members to actually meet its obligation to spend 2% of GDP on defence… In the coming months, it is likely that the Polish government will make pro-American gestures to ensure that the basic assumptions of the security framework in Europe remain intact. Poland may opt to buy American weapons, including U.S.-made Black Hawk helicopters, in place of the French Caracals for which a PLN 13 billion contract was recently cancelled.”
The Trump victory reinforces the trend of rising anti-establishment sentiment and the blue-collar backlash against the elites and globalization. This divide — between rural and urban, more- and less-educated, professionals and working class – also fueled the Brexit vote. And it propelled to power populist governments, like in Poland, which is the subject of our lead story.
The US election result could bolster populists and nationalists ahead of crucial votes coming up in Italy, the Netherlands, France and Germany. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French far-right National Front who is widely expected to make it into the second round of the presidential elections in 2017, rushed to congratulate Trump. Beppe Grillo, the leader of Italy’s Five Star party, which advocates Italy’s vote on Eurozone membership was equally jubilant.