Can Europe face up to Trump?

EU Council President Donald Tusk has called on the EU states to unite against what he sees as the threat represented by the Trump administration. In a letter to the EU heads of state and government, Tusk cited the US as a factor of uncertainty alongside Russia, the Middle East and China. Commentators doubt that the EU will be able to rise to the occasion.

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NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Trump not the EU's biggest problem

EU Council President Tusk's harsh words regarding US President Donald Trump are premature, NRC Handelsblad warns:

“Trump has not yet made good on his statements about Europe, and has repeatedly said that the future of Nato is not at stake. In short: the situation is worrying but all is not yet lost. For that reason a certain moderation is called for in dealing with the US. It's not practical to climb the escalation ladder too hastily. Moreover, the large majority of leaders have not yet met Trump, and are certainly not as at odds with him as Tusk. So the Council president has leaned too far out of the window. ... Long before Trump was elected the EU was facing plenty of strife in its own ranks. Trump is an additional problem for Europe, but not the main one.”

Blog Pitsirikos (GR) /

European unity is a joke

Blogger Pitsirikos laughs over Tusk's appeal:

“Donald Tusk, a cheaper version of Donald Trump, calls for unity among European countries. … We can see this unity in the wonderful behaviour of Germany and other EU countries vis-à-vis Greece. Wolfgang Schäuble is insisting on Grexit - his appetite has been aroused once more. These guys want to destroy Greece and the Greeks, but at the same time they want unity. If that's what they really want Greece could offer them the opportunity to demonstrate the unity of the EU. … In any case, by tearing Greece up into little pieces the EU is not sending a message of unity. … If it comes to a Grexit Trump will celebrate big time.”

Financial Times (GB) /

EU must invest more in defence

Defence is a policy area in which the EU member states must cooperate more, Financial Times comments:

“Europe has relied on US protection so heavily since the Cold War’s earliest days that it lacks a culture of independent strategic thinking. US impatience with low European defence spending is entirely justified. Although European defence budgets are going up, the rise is modest. ... About 80 per cent of EU defence procurement is run on a national basis. Fewer collaborative European defence programmes exist today than 20 years ago. The EU has 154 types of weapons systems; the US has 27. All this must change if sceptics in Washington are to treat Europe more seriously as a defence partner. The UK should support European efforts in this direction.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

We can't afford to criticise the US

Europe has no choice but to come to terms with the new US president, in Eesti Päevaleht's opinion:

“In view of Donald Trump's statements and behaviour we can no longer be sure that the main guarantor of our security will be there for us in the crucial moment. Moreover, it was mainly common liberal values that united us, but now the US has begun to discriminate against ethnic and religious groups, and we have to ask what basis there is for the alliance. If we can't rely on Trump will we be willing to contribute as partners to US military operations in the future? This raises a hypothetical question: would we be willing to give up the alliance if Trump's leadership style conflicts with all our principles? If we consider the alternatives we inevitably come to the conclusion that we must come to terms with Trump.”

De Standaard (BE) /

A beneficial shock for the EU

Finally Europe is awakening from its long slumber, De Standaard writes commenting on Tusk's criticism of Trump:

“Europe has the choice: either it can suffer this verbal and economic abuse or it can take its fate into its own hands. Tusk isn't alone with his sharp words directed at a friendly nation. Angela Merkel has voiced such criticism as well. And [Belgian] King Philippe and Prime Minister Charles Michel have also made undiplomatic statements. ... The velvet gloves have been removed. For Europe, which has been stumbling from one crisis to the next in recent years and has lost its faith in its own abilities, the pressure from Trump comes as yet another blow. It is extremely painful to be confronted with one's own weaknesses. But punishment can also be beneficial. We will no longer have to put our hopes in a third country when our security, prosperity and open society are at stake.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Seek new partners

It is high time Europe questioned the US's leading role in world affairs, political scientist Sonia Andolz writes in El Periódico de Catalunya:

“The US citizens have elected their president in a democratic and sovereign process. But the hegemonial role the US plays in many areas, and which has an impact in many regions beyond its borders, gives us the right to voice opinions and take action. We must demand adherence to international laws: in the US and in the EU. … If the global political system and its rules are regularly defined by Washington, perhaps the time has come to ask ourselves whether we want things to stay like this. Europe must reclaim the principles on which it was founded and work with other regions of the world to support a fairer system based on the shared principles and values of cooperation.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Not the time to save on defence and solidarity

Germany must give up its frugal mentality and invest in the EU and Nato, former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer demands in the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“There is no German security without Poland, no French security without Germany. On the contrary, Europe (and Germany along with it) must do everything it can to substantially increase this collective and its contribution to it. This applies for Nato and the EU equally. Germany's strength lies in its financial and economic performance, and it will now have to invest this strength in the EU and Nato to a greater extent than it ever did during the decades of so-called peace dividends and the years of the euro crisis. Frugality is unquestionably a virtue, but when the house is on fire and threatens to collapse the priorities have to change.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Take over from Washington

The EU has now inherited the task of defending the West's values, Večernji list writes:

“In just 10 days in office, President Trump has changed the US from a model democracy into a dismal autocratic state. ... Now the European Union must defend Western values even as they disappear in Washington. That is easier said than done, however, since the EU has been weakened by several crises. What's more, Trump seems to view the EU as some sort of target to be destroyed. If it wants to represent anything at all in the world, the EU must remain firm. Otherwise the collapse of Western values on both sides of the Atlantic will bring us a lot more doom and gloom in the time to come.”