What's in store for US-European relations?

Angela Merkel's warning that "we Europeans must take our fate into our own hands" has sparked a heated debate over the future of the transatlantic partnership, both in Europe and the US. Commentators also discuss Europe's options.

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Nezavisimaya Gazeta (RU) /

Moscow the best option as a partner

Nezavisimaya Gazeta knows which partner Europe should choose to replace the US:

“As a businessman Donald Trump is used to counting money. And he sees that the Europeans prefer to live a carefreee life in the shadow of their big brother without having to work too hard to finance their own security. That's why he demanded that Europe's contribution to the Nato budget should increase, the lion's share of which is traditionally borne by the US. This demand has been rejected by the European governments, which prefer to devote themselves to social programmes. Europe can either accept Trump's demands or think about how to increase its own security without relying on an American military presence. Of course it has another option too, namely cooperating with Russia in building a new European security infrastructure on the continent.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Don't give in to the dividers!

The US president is destroying the transatlantic axis, Večernji list fears:

“Trump's Europe tour can be described quite simply with the words: I came, I saw, I divided. Trump's behaviour in Germany was basically that of an (economic) enemy. This has sent a dangerous message to the Russians. The breakdown of US-German relations has been the main goal of Soviet policy after 1945 and of Russian policy today. The US president who won elections that were influenced by the Russians is weakening this main axis that the Russians have always sought to destroy. … But Merkel's reaction is also dangerous because it carries the risk of widening the gap between the European alliance partners and the US.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

Transatlantic partnership must not end

No matter how much Europe works on getting stronger it mustn't neglect the transatlantic partnership, Dnevnik admonishes:

“For the chancellor's goal of the EU becoming more independent and finally getting past puberty to be realised, it will take nothing less than a United States of Europe. But for such a project to succeed, with the democratic legitimation of its political leaders, with financial solidarity between the member countries and a united stance vis-à-vis other states, it will take more than photo sessions with the congenial French President Emmanuel Macron. … And even if the EU succeeds in becoming independent, the transatlantic partnership is not one that can just be cast aside on the rubbish heap of history. Europe is surrounded by many capricious 'partners' and was its own worst enemy in the not too distant past.”

Kaleva (FI) /

Fresh impetus for a European Nato?

If Europe wants to take more responsibility for its own security a European Nato would be feasible, writes Kaleva:

“Merkel's assessment of Trump's policies and the course the transatlantic relationship is taking is carefully considered and accurate. Experts in the US confirmed afterwards that the German chancellor had good reasons for her speech. … It looks like Merkel wants to prepare the Germans for the fact that they must take on a bigger role in European security and defence policy. … Merkel's statement fits in well with [Finnish] President Sauli Niinistö's reflections. A few years ago Niinistö put forward the idea of a European Nato. Thanks to the course Trump is pursuing this idea may become current again.”

Kurier (AT) /

Now we know where we stand!

Thanks to Donald Trump Europe now knows for sure that it can no longer rely on the US and must focus on increasing its own strength, Kurier concludes:

“Angela Merkel has already had to put up with a boorish billionaire who hides his own weakness behind crude statements. But who still talks about Silvio Berlusconi today? With Donald Trump things will be different. He has shown his contempt for his European partners so blatantly that we can't simply hope for him to be removed from office for working with the Russians and corruption. Even if that happens the Atlantic Alliance will change. If nothing else Trump has at least made the situation clear for Europe: the postwar period has ended, Europe can no longer count on help from the US and the continent must use its economic power for political and military goals or fade into insignificance.”

Le Soir (BE) /

EU must finally dare to change

Emancipation means change, and the time for that is now, Le Soir urges:

“Europe has no other option: it must become stronger and more autonomous in geostrategic terms. But that can only happen if it manages to resolve its internal problems. Macron must succeed with his reforms so that France can live up to his ambitious goals. Merkel must put the German trade surplus to work to invigorate investment and recovery in Europe. Italy must overhaul its financial system. Once and for all, the Eurozone must assume its responsibility and pull Greece out of its crisis. And the EU as a whole, which amidst the current Brexit folly is rediscovering the advantages of membership, must improve its organisation and decision-making capacity. Failing that it will remain a political dwarf on the global stage. That's not all, but already it's quite a lot.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

Merkel showing the way

Chancellor Merkel could have introduced a new political direction with just a few words, Jyllands-Posten writes:

“The German chancellor is known for her caution and rarely says anything that hasn't been carefully considered, particularly in an election year. Moreover she's known to be a great admirer of the US. For her the Atlantic is something that binds, rather than divides. Her speech, which the US has yet to comment on, could mean that Germany has recognised that Europe must deal with most of its problems on its own, and that Berlin wants to take the lead here. The thing about the Germans is that they come under fire when they want to assume a leadering role, but also when they don't. The same goes for the US, incidentally. Germany will deserve respect if it continues to stand up for what it believes in. The Federal Republic is one of the most solid democracies imaginable. So who, if not Germany, should do this?”

Sydsvenskan (SE) /

More responsibility good for Europe

Although there are those who don't like the idea of Germany taking the initiative on Europe boosting it military power, it does make sense, Sydsvenskan believes:

“As long as this takes place in individual countries - and in the context of Nato and close allies - it is a clear step in the direction of more security. If the US wants to take a step back from Europe militarily, a power vacuum must be avoided. ... Of course the EU states must continue to strive for good relations with the US. The Western world must stick together. But Merkel's words show that the global order is changing. That need not be as dramatic as it sounds. If EU cooperation is strengthened and Europe shoulders more responsibility that could be a good thing in many respects.”

Právo (CZ) /

Time for emancipation is yet to come

Adopting a strong stance at a summit meeting is good but true emancipation takes a little more than that, Právo explains:

“Trump will be back in Europe already on July 8 to attend the G20 summit of the most important industrial and emerging countries. The idea that he might conduct himself in the same way he did at last week's summit is a nightmare for the chancellor. So she's taking preventive action. It will be interesting to see whether Europe really can emancipate itself from the US and take care of itself. Sooner or later it will have to. To successfully emancipate itself Europe must adopt a very different approach in its foreign policy than for example the UK and France did in Libya. And in its domestic policies it must renounce the 'moral imperialism' of the West which Germany in particular pursued during the refugee crisis.”

Dennik N (SK) /

Grounds for scepticism

When Merkel says that Europe must take its fate in its hands it should at least be clear about what it's aiming to achieve, Dennik N writes:

“Not long ago the EU Commission president presented five different scenarios for the EU's future development. And as pleasing as the results of some European elections have been, the percentage of Eurosceptics has remained relatively high. ... It would be great if the EU or the European Nato states took their fate into their own hands - with a functioning euro and secure borders, and without trying to pressure others or push through their own objectives. But is Europe really better than Trump's America on that front? There are good grounds to doubt that.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Trump as a catalyst for deepening the EU

Election campaign tactics were not the only motive behind Chancellor Merkel's speech in which she distanced herself from the US, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung comments:

“It's part of the European politicians' standard repertoire to use crises to promote the European integration process, which has been brought to a standstill by the financial crisis and refugee crises. The election of the unpopular, isolationist troublemaker Trump, who is always generous with his anti-European remarks, has given Europe's political elite a new chance. It is presenting Trump as a challenge to which the European Union must react with resolve. Naturally this must all be done according to the usual pattern - with the individual members overcoming their differences and moving closer together.”