Saturday, January 6, 2018

One year of turbulence leaves Europe-US relations in question

Europe-US relations
Once one of the most privileged relationships, the ties between Europe and the United States saw a turbulent 2017 with the election of Donald Trump as US president.

Questions remain as to how the Europe-US relationship will be able to function in 2018, and to what degree European leaders can adapt to the changes in order to be self-sufficient, while retaining hope that differences can be repaired.


When Trump was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2017, European observers anticipated changes in transatlantic relations, but perhaps not the degree of disruption that would follow. Europe and its American partner have disagreed on a variety of fundamental issues such as military engagement, international trade and climate change policy.

It began even prior to Trump's inauguration, when in early January 2017 the then-president-elect sharply criticized NATO, calling it "obsolete" and claiming European partners were not paying their fair share.

"23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they are supposed to be paying," Trump said in May 2017 on the occasion of his maiden summit with NATO, adding that they owe "massive amounts" and hinting that the United States may not honor the organization's mutual defense clause if defense spending didn't increase among allies.

Trade was an issue as well. Trump slammed Germany for maintaining a "massive trade deficit" with the United States, saying it was "very bad" and promised things would change.

In January 2017, one of Trump's first acts was to pull out of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal with Asian partners. EU leaders then understood that the new president would be a difficult trade ally.

But European allies found the US president more reluctant to compromise on international trade than expected.

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