President Trump’s “America first” policy and the tariff war have put European leaders in a frenzy ahead of the Brussels Summit this Wednesday.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created in 1949 by the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union.NATO- EU relations were institutionalized in 2001, to further the steps taken during the 1990s to promote greater European responsibility in defense matters. The 2002 NATO-EU Declaration on a European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) reaffirmed EU assured access to NATO’s planning capabilities for the EU’s own military operations.
In 2003, the so-called “Berlin Plus” arrangements set the basis for the Alliance to support EU-led operations in which NATO as a whole is not engaged. At the 2010 Lisbon Summit, the Allies underlined their determination to improve the NATO-EU strategic partnership. The 2010 Strategic Concept committed the Alliance to work more closely with other international organizations to prevent crises, manage conflicts and stabilize post-conflict situations.
In Warsaw in July 2016, the two organizations outlined areas for strengthened cooperation in light of common challenges to the east and south, including countering hybrid threats, enhancing resilience, defense capacity building, cyber defense, maritime security, and exercises. As a follow-up, in December 2016, NATO foreign ministers endorsed 42 measures to advance NATO-EU cooperation in agreed areas. In December 2017, the other areas of joint work were agreed.
The common pool of member nations between NATO and the EU makes close cooperation between them an important element in developing a comprehensive approach to crisis management.
President Donald Trump is set to leave for Europe on Tuesday. He will hold meetings with NATO allies in Brussels and visit Britain before having a one-on-one meeting with Putin.
In Trump’s first year in office, US foreign policy has been unpredictable. US allies in Europe are finding it increasingly difficult to steer through Trump’s policies while their own priorities are undermined. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned in a recent speech that “old pillars of reliability are crumbling,” in a veiled reference to the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and the tariffs on EU metals exports.
The U.S. President, the de-facto leader of NATO has indicated his agenda for the two-day meeting in Brussels. The main objective will be to urge other countries to increase military spending and lower import tariffs. “I’m going to tell NATO: You’ve got to start paying your bills. The United States is not going to take care of everything,” Trump told a rally last week, adding: “They kill us on trade.”
At a reception in June celebrating 100 years of American and European partnership in Brussels, Washington’s top diplomat to the European Union, Adam Shub, sought to highlight common ground, even on issues such as trade and Iran. The gesture met with muttered disagreement from EU diplomats in the room.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s optimistic response to probable transatlantic tensions was that the 1956 Suez Crisis and the 2003 Iraq war were policy disagreements that have been overcome. However, EU officials believe that Trump appears uninterested in solutions. They say he ignored top-level talks between EU envoys and U.S. trade and State Department officials this year to avoid metal tariffs and keep Washington in the Iran deal.
Wolfgang Ischinger, head of the Munich Security Conference and a former German envoy to Washington, said it was possible that Trump could refuse to sign a communique at next week’s NATO summit in Brussels, mirroring what he did at the G7 summit.
On defense, Europe and Canada have tried to show they are responding to Trump’s demands. Defense budgets in European NATO members, Canada and Turkey are expected to rise by almost 4 percent in 2018, a nearly $90 billion cumulative increase since 2015. However, this move may not be enough to keep Trump from raising the stakes again next week, a senior U.S. defense official said recently.
Wess Mitchell, assistant U.S. secretary of state for European affairs, told diplomats and NATO officials in a recent speech in Brussels that Trump was taking a new approach to problems that have festered for years, such as the Middle East peace process — even if it means going it alone. “In the actions we take, we are hoping to spur a multilateral response to address some of the world’s toughest challenges,” Mitchell added.
Our assessment is that the forecast for the NATO Brussels Summit on 11th July is not quite optimistic.
We feel that Trump’s decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal and impose tariffs in Europe have been instrumental in causing disbalance in the transatlantic ties. We believe that regardless of the outcome of the Brussels Summit, the EU-US foreign policy must provide stability in the region. The United States must revamp their policy towards EU with pragmatic leadership.