Incoming US President Donald Trump hasn’t been making the right noises about the European Union, even reckoning other European nations will replicate the Brexit vote that led to the United Kingdom leaving the EU last year.
“I believe others will leave. I do think keeping it together is not gonna be as easy as a lot of people think,” Trump reportedly said during an interview given to Time magazine. He added the exit of the UK from Europe would “end up being a great thing”.
Trump’s stand on the EU is a prominent departure from outgoing president Barack Obama’s, who had appealed the United Kingdom’s public to stay in the European single market by voting to remain in the EU, an advice majority of Britons eventually ignored.
So, the big question is why could Trump possibly feel threatened with the European Union?
We came up with three possible reasons why we think the 70-year old former New York businessman want to split the European single market.
Reason 1 Trump’s backing of Vladimir Putin’s Russia
- If Europe becomes weaker, Russia is bound to get stronger. One of the biggest gainers of a weaker Europe, both financially and geopolitically, will be Russia. The Russian economy has suffered heavily in the wake of West-backed economic sanctions as pay back for its annexation of Crimea, with the European Union also seen as a political bulwark against growing Russian hegemony in Eastern Europe under Vladimir Putin.
- Trump’s recent proposal of offering to lift sanctions in return for Moscow agreeing to reduce its nuclear stockpile is being viewed charily by Washington’s European allies.
“They have sanctions against Russia, let’s see if we can strike a few good deals with Russia. I think there should be less nuclear weapons and they have to be reduced significantly, that’s part of it,” Trump told Times.
“But there are these sanctions and Russia is suffering lots from it. But I think there are things, which lots of people can profit from. “
- Recent allegations claiming that Russia has compromising information on Trump, which the President-elect as denied, could be another reason why Trump may be soft on Russia compared to past US presidents.
(Source: Youtube/PBS NewsHour)
Reason 2 Trump’s RIGHT-WING IDEOLOGY
- The US vote electing Donald Trump to power was also hugely cheered by anti-EU parties vying for power in major EU partner states including France, Italy, Greece and Germany among others. France’s anti-immigration presidential candidate for this year’s election Marine Le Pen reacted enthusiastically to Trump’s statements, terming them as “smart protectionism”.
- Trump’s nationalist politics has also appealed to many in the UK and Europe, which has seen a surge in nationalist sentiment in the wake of massive influx of refugees fleeing the Syrian War since 2015. Even as Trump’s electoral win is being lamented by millions of American voters, it was hailed as the win of “common sense” by right-wing parties in Europe.
- Throughout his election campaign, Donald Trump has been accused of pandering to the nationalist side of American people in a bid to win the popular vote. Trump’s electoral strategy has made him the target of liberals, also prompting charges of racism and inciting xenophobia.
- Prominent Brexit campaigner and former leader of anti-immigrant United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) Nigel Farage has been a chief British backer of Donald Trump through his election campaign.
- Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel, on the other hand, is seen as complete antithesis to what Trump and his high-profile European supporter stand for. Widely considered as the “locomotive of Europe”, Germany under Merkel has consolidated its position as the leader of the European Union.
- Merkel’s progressive politics on resettling Syrian and other refugees in Germany, as well as urging Germany’s European allies to shoulder their share of responsibility when it comes to increasing their refugee intake, have long been unpopular among supporters of right-wing parties. According to UN’s Refugee Agency, nearly 50 percent of around a million asylum seekers who entered Europe in 2015 were eventually resettled in Germany.
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s last joint press conference
(Source: Youtube/CBS News)
If Trump’s vision is guided by principles of stricter controls on immigration, it is not difficult to forecast why Trump wants the EU broken.
Reason 3 Trump’s hatred of NATO
- The US President-elect has made no secret of his dislike of the American-European military project, time and again during his presidential campaign taking potshots at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) . During his latest interview with Time, Trump went a step further as he dubbed NATO as “obsolete which was designed many, many years ago”.
- Trump’s main criticism of NATO has been centred around a claim that the European countries which are part of the Cold-War era alliance haven’t been paying enough to sustain the alliance, thus leaving America to shoulder most of the burden of keeping the Brussels-headquarted organisation financially afloat.
(Source: Youtube/Financial Times)
- Formed at the end of the Cold War, many European countries see America-backed NATO as their main bulwark against Russian aggression from the east as well chief providers of European security on which the prosperity of the European Union is founded.