By Urvashi Seth. Recently, in an interview, Jean Piere Raffarin, ex-Prime Minister of France said that the US-European Union alliance is on the verge of breaking. He claimed that the United States President Donald Trump has been supporting Brexit over the euro.
He also believes that Donald Trump has been asking United Kingdom to leave the European Union without a deal, promising a better deal with the United States in return. “Trump urged Britain to ‘get rid of the shackles’ of the EU,” said Jean Piere Raffarin.
As answer United States diplomats cleared the air by saying, “Donald Trump is brutal and selfish but he is not an isolationist. He won’t denounce the EU.” He pointed out the fact that the defence military operations carried out by the European Union is conducted with NATO’s budget which, about 70% is covered by the United States.
United States and European Union’s diplomatic relations began in 1953, when the first US observers were sent to the European Coal and Steel Company. Later, in 1990, Transatlantic Declaration of 1990 was singed between United States and the European Union. This was the formal start of the diplomatic relations between the two allies. Regular summits were held.
In 1995, the New Transatlantic Agenda (NTA) was adopted. The NTA contained four broad objectives for US-EU collaboration: promoting peace and stability, democracy and development around the world; responding to global challenges; contributing to the expansion of world trade and closer economic relations; and building bridges Across the Atlantic.
Since the past two years, there has been news of differences between the two sides. In few instances the differences were seen. For example, when the Trump administration prompted the European leaders, to create a ‘real European army’ and to reduce the dependence on Washington. Or when the Trump administration gave threat to impose tariffs on European motor vehicles.
The relations between the two sides started going downhill when the Trump administration started imposing tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium in the name of national security. The European Union retaliated by imposing tariffs on US imports. Other issues for US were the spending on defence by the European Union, their stance on Iran and the Russian gas pipelines.
Later, when the Trump administration threatened to impose 25% on imports of automobiles and automotive parts, the EU side realised the seriousness of the situation. Since then, the European Union leaders has been trying to establish talks channels with Trump. But Trump is demanding to have talks with European Union as a whole and not in bits and pieces with each country.
The ‘Chinese’ angle
With the trade war progressing between the United States and China, United States need to have strong allies by its side. Having another economically strong side, which has close ties with Asia as well would only help the United States to have a stronger hold globally.
Over the years, European Union have been taking a stronger stance on China by introducing new rules, introducing new rules for closer ‘scrutiny’ of Chinese products, declaring them a potential ‘strategic rival’ and more.
The United States on the other hand has always been hard on China, side-lining China in every occasion they get. The recent one is by blacklisting Huawei technologies, a Chinese company. Many view it as a mistake because US doesn’t really have any alternative to Huawei which provides cheaper products and services (smartphones, broadbands, watches, PCs).
In a round table conference held in April by the US President where many ‘allies’ diplomats were invited; the Trump administration wanted the allies to sign a joint statement condemning the Chinese plan. It is also believed that the conference was only organised to send Xi a message.
The allies chose not to sign the joint statement, calling Trump administrations action as an overreaction on China. One of the European Union’s diplomats compared this isolation with Brexit. “This is clearly based on the deluded notion that a fading great power can reverse the course of history and return to its glorious past,” he said. Another diplomat was present in the conference said, “No one was willing to go along with it. We may agree that China is a strategic threat, but you can’t just put them in a corner.”
It is also observed that the United States has not been recognizing European Union’s steps to curb China. According to them, these are just ‘baby steps’ with no real effect. A number of international analysts believe that Trump, to reach the aim to put China out of the picture, he is also willing to harm the relations with the European Union.
It t is not really possible for either the United states or the European Union to break their diplomatic deals. Many diplomats believe that with Trump up to run for 2020 US Presidency, breaking diplomatic ties with European Union would only hamper his reputation in his country. And for the European Union, breaking ties with the States would only damage their economy with the current trade war in action.
The United States needs to stop overreacting on the Chinese issue and needs to learn who their allies are. They need to stop pushing European Union aside and needs to value their relation. At the same time European Union needs to to speak strong in one voice and not each member country separately.
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