USA and the EU: Divide and Rule

_ Pascal Boniface,  Founding Director, French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS). Paris, 4 June 2019.

Trump will try, as usual, to divide the EU, seen and described as an enemy of the US. Why does Trump not consider Europe as an ally but as a foe?

Because he is focused on US trade balance, and the EU has a trade excedent of 170 billion dollars with the US. We could imagine that the EU and the US would have a joint approach regarding China behavior on trade, because both of them are worried and consider that China is not acting fairly. But Trump has preferred to fly “solo” and to tax both the EU and China. He told Macron, who proposed a common policy on China: “I will take care of China first, and then I will take care of the EU.”

Obama has campaigned against Brexit, Trump is strongly in favor. Because he wants a less powerful Europe. “Divide and rule” is Trump’s approach regarding the EU. He will advocate for a hard Brexit by dangling strong bilateral trade ties between the UK and the US. But, of course, the UK will be in a weaker situation. With 28 or 27 members, the EU can stand against the US. The UK alone will be in a less comfortable position and will lose.

As to France, the good personal relations between Macron and Trump did not bring to positive political result. On Climate Change, JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal), UNESCO, Trade, Middle East, Paris and Washington are on two different planets. Macron tries to embark Europe toward strategic autonomy. But it is a difficult task for many reasons. Several EU members are still reluctant to take such a step.

But with the extraterritorial applications of US law, the result is crystal clear: US policy is an attempt to weaken the EU sovereignty. We could not be good allies within NATO if we are considered as dangerous trade foes. Something must be done.

We will certainly not support additional US military deployment near the Iranian border because the result would only be a surge of tensions and a risk of military clash, even by accident.

Regarding Huawei conflict, I think that the EU should avoid to follow a blind US position. We are worried by some Chinese practices regarding trade, particularly on the respect of intellectual property. But we must define a purely European agenda and not be enlisted in the US fight with China.

Source: http://valdaiclub.com/

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