Donald Tusk, president of the European Union’s European Council, penned a letter to the 27 E.U. heads of state or government and cited President Trump’s administration — as well as the policies of “assertive” China and “aggressive” Russia — as a threat to member nations and the world:
The first threat, an external one, is related to the new geopolitical situation in the world and around Europe. An increasingly, let us call it, assertive China, especially on the seas, Russia’s aggressive policy towards Ukraine and its neighbours, wars, terror and anarchy in the Middle East and in Africa, with radical Islam playing a major role, as well as worrying declarations by the new American administration all make our future highly unpredictable.
For the first time in our history, in an increasingly multipolar external world, so many are becoming openly anti-European, or Eurosceptic at best. Particularly the change in Washington puts the European Union in a difficult situation; with the new administration seeming to put into question the last 70 years of American foreign policy.
Tusk further stressed the need for a united Europe in the face of adversarial foreign leaders — whether the aggressors are Russia, China, the United States, or Turkey:
“Objectively speaking, there is no reason why Europe and its leaders should pander to external powers and their rulers. I know that in politics, the argument of dignity must not be overused, as it often leads to conflict and negative emotions.
But today we must stand up very clearly for our dignity, the dignity of a united Europe – regardless of whether we are talking to Russia, China, the US or Turkey.”
Tusk implored his fellow E.U. leaders to remember why Europe was unified in the first place, and stated that “amnesia” on the part of younger generations regarding past atrocities on the continent is not an excuse to abandon the principles of the union.Image Credit: John Thys/AFP/Getty Images
The European Union was founded as the European Economic Community in the aftermath of World War II as an economic partnership between its founding member nations: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. The goal of the union was to create economic interdependency between the nations, with the belief that such a relationship would prevent further conflicts between the powerful countries.
As the European Economic Community grew to include more countries — and underwent a name change to “European Union” in 1993 to reflect the shift from a purely economic partnership to that of a policy-making organization — peace was kept between the member states.
This time of peace — for which the European Union won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 — has, according to Tusk, allowed E.U. member nations to govern without dependence on “great superpowers” like the United States, and the European Council president stressed the importance of remaining united.
Tusk’s call to remain united, and to not turn a blind eye to history, is in contrast to what President Trump has said in recent months about the European Union.
President Trump, following Britain’s vote to leave the E.U., stated that the U.K was “so smart in getting out” and that “People, countries, want their own identity and the U.K. wanted its own identity.”Image Credit: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
Tusk addressed sentiments like President Trump’s in his letter, and stated that he hopes the E.U. will “have the courage to oppose the rhetoric of demagogues who claim that countries will cope better on their own.”
Derek Chollet, a senior adviser for security and defense at the German Marshall Fund, told CNN that President Trump’s rhetoric regarding the E.U. would allow Russia “[to become] empowered and [get] everything it wants — a U.S. divided from Europe and an E.U. that is weakened and perhaps breaking apart — without having to do anything.”
Stefan Lehne, a former E.U. diplomat, also told CNN that President Trump’s position on the E.U. is “completely unprecedented.”Image Credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images
Tusk then expressed in his letter a desire to take advantage of the new U.S. administration’s trade policies, and that the E.U. should focus on “intensifying our talks with interested partners.”
The E.U. just announced on Wednesday — on the heels of President Trump stating his intentions to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement — that it plans to meet in April and June with Mexican officials to discuss a new trade partnership.
Tusk concluded his letter with a warning for the United States: “We should remind our American friends of their own motto: ‘United we stand, divided we fall.'”