While it’s no surprise that Trump has slammed NATO as being ‘obsolete’, many European leaders were left stunned after his remarks about the EU and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. Not only has Trump said that Britain’s decision to the leave the EU would ‘end up being a great thing’, he also hinted that other European nations will follow suit.
According to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Trump’s comments have “caused astonishment“.
European officials went on to give their usual statements calling for European unity and solidarity. If Trump’s interview is any indicator of his future foreign policy, the EU has many reasons for concern. Donald Trump’s views and remarks regarding Brexit are at a stark contrast with those of the Obama administration.
Obama had publicly supported then British PM, David Cameron, in campaigning for a ‘remain’ vote in Britain’s referendum on EU membership.
Having the UK in the EU gives us much greater confidence about the strength of the transatlantic union, and is part of the cornerstone of the institutions built after World War II that has made the world safer and more prosperous. We want to make sure that the United Kingdom continues to have that influence.
Obama said back in July 2015, in an interview given to BBC.
Obama’s visit to the UK in the months prior to the referendum was regarded in some circles as an attempt to influence the vote outcome. Obama then warned of the possible consequences of Britain leaving the EU and the implications it might have on US/UK relations.
Not a year later, the incoming US President has proclaimed a radically different approach to European affairs. NATO has been a cornerstone of European defense policy ever since the end of World War II. Many European countries have drastically cut their military spending, and relied upon NATO for providing military support.
Now, when Trump has openly said that he views NATO as expensive and ‘outdated’, the EU is faced with a potentially unpredictable situation. The US reconsidering its commitment to NATO comes at a particularly harsh time for the EU, badly shaken by Brexit, ongoing migrant crisis and the rise of Euro-skeptic forces across the continent.
It is as if Trump has chosen to play right into the hands of the likes of Marin Le Pen. Like Trump, Le Pen is a harsh critic of Angela Merkel’s migrant policy. French Presidential election will be held in May, and Le Pen’s victory would be an earthquake that could shake the very foundations of the EU.
It’s now less than three days from Trump entering the Oval Office. If the 45th President remains committed to his recent remarks about NATO, Brexit and the EU migration policies, US/EU relations could be plunged into crisis.
Image: The Times/Daniel Biskup