Policymakers in the European Union have been concerned with US President Donald Trump’s comments on European affairs, particularly with regard to NATO, but they should instead focus on building a “more solid foundation” for the bloc, journalist Max Hofmann wrote for Deutsche Welle, saying that otherwise the union is “doomed.”
Hofmann maintained that some of Trump’s remarks made during the election campaign and after he was elected US president “have sent shock waves across Europe” regardless of whether they reflect actual policies or were made on the spur of the moment.
Trump has been critical of NATO, calling the bloc “obsolete” since it has been unable to provide an efficient response to terrorist attacks. The US president has also urged European nations to invest in their defense capabilities instead of relying on Washington. The majority of NATO members have failed to allocate 2 percent of national GDP on defense, something they have pledged to do.
In addition, Trump has said that his administration views boosting the US economy as a priority and will as a result be less engaged in overseas campaigns.
This has prompted Hofmann to say that Europe “can no longer rely on Washington.”
“What do you do when your closest partner just disappears on you? You do what the EU should have done long ago: you fix up your home, regardless of what ‘The Donald’ is doing in the [United States]. There is enough work that needs to be done in Europe with regard to ‘putting your own house in order’ – Brexit, migration and refugee policies, the euro,” he explained.
In Hofmann’s opinion, Brussels should strengthen the political and economic union by focusing on two priority areas, defense and the economy. The journalist cited increased military spending and a British-French nuclear defense shield for the continent as measures the EU could consider. He did not specify the threats Europe has to deal with, but said that Russia is unlikely to invade the Baltic states while Trump is president.
The Baltic nations and Poland have long claimed that Russia poses a threat to their security. The Kremlin has repeatedly dismissed these assertions as groundless.
Hofmann further said that the Trump presidency could potentially have “disastrous economic effects” on the EU if policies of the current US administration lead to an economic crisis.
Some have been concerned that “Trump’s cabinet of billionaires could once again unleash Wall Street, widen the already large gap between the rich and poor and drive the deficit into dizzying heights,” the journalist said. “Furthermore, many experts fear the US economy will be overheated by stock market euphoria and planned US infrastructure projects.”
Hofmann maintained that European institutions are limited in their abilities to respond to economic troubles.
This is why “it should no longer matter to Europeans what Trump really means, or if it makes sense,” he said. “If the EU member states in particular do not manage to stabilize the bloc themselves, then the EU is indeed doomed.”