The European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini began her two-day trip to Washington with a statement that she was hoping to find “common ground” with the new Trump Administration and congressional officials. She cited a range of issues that could come up during her trip, such as the joint U.S.-EU policies toward Libya and Syria, as well as greater efficiency within the United Nations. While she mentioned climate change in her list, it is clear that the Trump administration has dismissed climate change as being real and is unlikely to move forward on this environmental issue. It is also unclear how trade will factor into her visit, but a new multi-lateral trade deal with the EU-U.S. appears to be dead.
Via her Twitter account, she indicated a good meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, where they discussed U.S.-EU cooperation and the crises in Syria and Ukraine. However, President Trump has signaled a change in policy that may impact relations with the EU in the future.
President Trump cheered the exit of Britain from the EU and many of his top aides have questioned the need for the European Union at all. The Trump Administration plans to work toward a bilateral trade agreement with Britain after its exit from the EU. He has also accused NATO of being “obsolete”, been open about his dealings with Russian President Vladmire Putin, shown skepticism over the U.S.-EU trade deal and criticized the Iranian nuclear deal. EU officials have raised objections over President Trump’s ambassador choice for the EU, Ted Malloch, because of his anti-EU writings.
Mr. Malloch has only deepened the concerns of the EU with comments calling the bloc anti-American and stating that the Trump administration prefers to work with the European nations individually. The EU “has taken positions contrary to American foreign policy in the last eight years in any number of issues, whether it’s on Israel, on the Middle East, on Iran or on some human rights issues,” said Malloch in an interview with the AP. “There is a long and growing list of issues where U.S. foreign policy differs from that of the EU.”
The issue of Iran and its nuclear capabilities has also come up, as President Trump is ready to take a harder line with Iran, even if its allies disagree. The nuclear agreement is a bone of contention between the Trump administration and members of the EU and the United Nations. However, when referring to the Iran nuclear deal, Mogherini said, “I was reassured by what I heard in the meetings on the intention to stick to the full implementation of the agreement.” One of her main intentions had been to discuss the nuclear accord, which has granted Iran sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
EU President Donald Tusk of Poland has responded to comments of U.S. President Trump by describing the U.S. under Trump as an “external threat” to Europe’s stability on par with Russia, China, radical Islam and terrorism.
In the end, it appears that a new era in EU-U.S. relations has begun and not on a friendly note.