Professor Iain Begg, Professorial Research Fellow at the European Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science, and Dr Tara McCormack, a lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of Leicester join the program.
Professor Begg says that it is too early to say how serious this rift is, as President Trump is still very much learning the job, however he does state that Trump has a point when it comes to US spending on NATO, which is 72% of the total NATO budget, whereas many EU countries are contributing barely 1%. Dr McCormack agrees: “The fundamental point about NATO allies not paying enough of the burden has been one that America has made for at least a decade and a half now. …I see what is happening between the EU and the US not being so much a consequence of Trump but I think we are seeing a number of post Cold-War trends which are coming to a head… there is a problem with American leadership (in Europe), there is an underlying trend.”
Professor Begg says that Trump is not only inexperienced, but he brings a unique ‘property-magnate-approach’ to US politics, which explain his simplistic notions such as: because Germany has a trade surplus with the US, Germany is bad. A discussion ensues about the fate of the UK after Brexit, in the context of the special relationship with America. Dr McCormack makes the interesting point that Germany is actually America’s main ally in Europe, not the UK. Professor Begg says that anyone who thinks that Europe can be divided overlooks the commitment that the EU countries have to stay together.
Another discussion follows about whether or not certain EU leaders are using the somewhat irrational behaviour of the US President to encourage support for a European army. Both guests express that the creation of an European army is unlikely, for historical and economic reasons. Dr McCormack says that if the UK does leave the EU, then security and intelligence cooperation will continue between Britain and other EU countries. Professor Begg points out that there are 6 nations inside the EU which are not in NATO for historic reasons. Such inconsistencies would get in the way of maintaining a singly coherent policy such as one needed to create a European army.
To conclude, Professor Begg says that we may be going through a rough period but common interests exceed the divisions, and that eventually US-EU relations will normalise. Dr McCormack says that what we are seeing now is more of a continuation of a long-term trend rather than something new. A lot depends, Dr McCormack says, on who comes after Trump, and we do not fully understand the implications of the new Cold war attitude in the US against Russia.
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