The Strategist

Does Trump really want to split the European Union?

07/19/2018 - 12:15

Washington confirmed that on July 25, President Trump will meet with President of the European Commission (EC) Jean-Claude Juncker at the White House. Europe does not hide the fact that the head of the European Commission goes overseas to put up with the "big brother".

The White House
The White House
"It is clear that Junker cannot fly to Washington empty-handed," said one of the high-ranking European diplomats to Politico.

Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to offer some concessions in the hope of preventing a trade war between the US and the EU. However, it is not easy to bring a pan-European position on relations between the US and the EU to Washington because of disagreements in the EU's leading tandem. France and Germany have diametrical views on relations with America.

A year ago, when Emmanuel Macron came to power in France, everyone began talking about the revival of the Franco-German tandem. 

Under Macron's predecessors, Angela Merkel played the leading role in this tandem. Current French president, by virtue of his age and the overpowering energy, intends to change this situation. For a while, it seemed that he would succeed. All circumstances seemed to be favorable. Merkel was paying all her attention to creation of a coalition first, and then settling the crisis in a long-term alliance with the German Christian socialists. It seemed that Emmanuel Macron succeeded to achieve a preponderance in the tandem and finally take the leading position. However, Juncker's visit to the United States should put everything in its place and show that there can be no question of France's predominance in Europe. At least for now.

Politico writes, referring to its sources in Brussels, the EC President is likely to offer the German version of concessions. In a nutshell, Berlin is for a soft approach to relations with America, implying serious compromises from Europe; and Paris is not going to play it soft. While senior German officials prefer to talk less about disagreements between the EU and the US, their French counterparts regularly accuse the White House of trying to split the European Union. France does not want to give way to Donald Trump, but, according to Politico, the influential general secretary of the Martin Selmayr supports the German version of building relations with the United States. Incidentally, he is of a German origin, and his position always coincides with that of Junker.

The official police of France is that the EU should not conclude any deals with America, which put a gun to the union’s head, figuratively speaking. The French, by the way, still cannot forgive Trump for withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement.

Meanwhile, Germany is terribly afraid of the fact that the US may introduce 20 percent tariffs and very much want to agree on a cease-fire. In 2016, Europe had a positive balance in trade with the US in the amount of 147 billion dollars. Of course, this is not pleasing for the White House. Donald Trump believes that German cars are to blame most of all.

At that, France believes that it’s not the time for compromises and that Donald Trump wants to destroy European unity. The country is not alarmed with cars tariffs as much as Germany is. However, the French are very afraid that the White House may also turn its attention to the agriculture, which is a very painful topic for the French. In this regard, the country suspects that American duties on Spanish olives are the first shot in the trade war and in the agricultural sector.

President Macron wants to maintain a united political front against Washington at all costs.

"The goal of Trump," said one of the French diplomats, "is the existence of two large blocks: the United States and China. Europe, as a strong player in the international arena, does not fit into this plan. "

Minister of Economy of France Bruno Le Maire warned that Donald Trump wants to drive a wedge between France and Germany and that he "cares" for Paris and at the same time attacks Berlin for this purpose, accusing Пукьфтн of a multibillion-dollar surplus in trade with the United States.

Curiously, even some Americans agree with the French. For example, Anthony Gardner, the US ambassador to the EU under Obama, wrote on Twitter: "Wake up, Europe! America wants to split the EU. Remember the Belgian motto: "Strength in Unity." This applies especially to trade. No "left" deals and arrangements! "

The Germans are proposing a bilateral agreement to reduce tariffs on industrial goods and multilateral ones to lift tariffs for cars on a global scale. Berlin also offers a transatlantic trade agreement that will allow the US to increase beef exports to Europe.

Germany is ready to make concessions despite President Trump's position towards Europe, which he clearly formulated last week in an interview with CBS: "I think the European Union is our opponent. At least, from the point of view of what they are doing in trade..."

Shortly before this interview, the American leader advised his "friend" Macron to withdraw from the EU in order to conclude a trade agreement with America on more favorable terms than the conditions he is going to offer the European Union. So, the attempt to split the European Union is obvious.