EU for­eign min­is­ters gather to grap­ple with Trump im­pact Cam­paign points might trans­late into real pol­icy?

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Euro­pean Union for­eign min­is­ters will gather to dis­cuss the im­pact of Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion on trans-At­lantic ties and whether it will com­pli­cate re­la­tions with an in­creas­ingly bel­liger­ent Rus­sia.

At in­for­mal din­ner talks in Brussels, well away from the me­dia, the min­is­ters will de­bate how many of Trump’s cam­paign an­nounce­ments like iso­la­tion­ist po­si­tions on se­cu­rity, his re­jec­tion of in­ter­na­tional trade pacts and re­fusal to crit­i­cize Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin - might trans­late into real pol­icy. Be­fore the talks, NATO’s sec­re­tary-gen­eral ap­pealed for trans-At­lantic unity and warned that “go­ing it alone” wasn’t an op­tion for ei­ther Europe or the US

At a loss to ex­plain

Be­fore the din­ner, EU diplo­mats were at a loss to ex­plain Trump’s stun­ning vic­tory or un­der­stand yet what it might re­ally mean. Gio­vanni Grevi, se­nior fel­low at the Euro­pean Pol­icy Cen­tre think tank, said that “co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Europe and the US will not be­come im­pos­si­ble, but it will be­come much more dif­fi­cult.”

“Don­ald Trump has been putting Amer­ica first ... in defin­ing his for­eign pol­icy and it seems he is tak­ing a very trans­ac­tional ap­proach to in­ter­na­tional af­fairs. This is very likely to ap­ply also to trans-At­lantic re­la­tions. He will value Euro­peans in so far as they can match his pri­or­i­ties,” Grevi said.

Given Trump’s clear op­po­si­tion to ma­jor trade pacts, EU of­fi­cials are all but cer­tain that the mas­sive Trans-At­lantic Trade and In­vest­ment Part­ner­ship, or TTIP, will have to be rene­go­ti­ated, if any life re­mains in the project at all. “With the new pres­i­dent-elect we don’t re­ally know what will hap­pen. There is strong rea­son to be­lieve that there would be a pause in TTIP, that this might not be the big­gest pri­or­ity for the new ad­min­is­tra­tion,” EU Trade Com­mis­sioner Ce­cilia Malm­stroem said Fri­day.

Per­haps the most press­ing prob­lem though is to un­der­stand how Trump wants to deal with Putin.

The EU has im­posed sanc­tions on Rus­sia over its an­nex­a­tion of Crimea and desta­bi­liz­ing role else­where in Ukraine. Some of those mea­sures, in­clud­ing as­set freezes on in­di­vid­u­als and or­ga­ni­za­tions, come up for re­newal in Jan­uary.

EU lead­ers are due to dis­cuss them at a sum­mit in Brussels on Dec. 15 16, but any sig­nal from Trump about a soft­en­ing of US re­la­tions with Rus­sia is likely to em­bolden al­ready-re­luc­tant coun­tries like Ger­many, Italy and oth­ers to push for an end the sanc­tions regime, diplo­mats said.

The EU for­eign min­is­ters will meet again for­mally to­day, to dis­cuss strained ties with mem­ber­ship can­di­date country Turkey, the con­flict in Syria and Libya, and de­fense co­op­er­a­tion with the NATO mil­i­tary al­liance.

Writ­ing in Bri­tain’s Ob­server news­pa­per, NATO Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Jens Stoltenberg in­sisted that Europe and the US must work to­gether in the face of se­cu­rity chal­lenges.

Stoltenberg ap­peared to be re­spond­ing to Trump’s crit­i­cism of NATO dur­ing his cam­paign. The pres­i­dent-elect has sug­gested that Wash­ing­ton could aban­don its NATO com­mit­ments, which in­clude mu­tual de­fense in case of at­tack. “We face the great­est chal­lenges to our se­cu­rity in a gen­er­a­tion. This is no time to ques­tion the value of the part­ner­ship be­tween Europe and the United States,” Stoltenberg wrote.

Mean­while, Bri­tain dis­tanced it­self from the Euro­pean meet­ing, sug­gest­ing it in­tends to take a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to Trump. Of­fi­cials said For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son - who has told his EU coun­ter­parts to snap out of the “gen­eral doom and gloom” and “col­lec­tive whinge-o-rama” fol­low­ing the US elec­tion re­sult - would skip the talks.

“We do not see the need for an ad­di­tional meet­ing on Sun­day be­cause the US elec­tion timetable is long es­tab­lished,” the For­eign Of­fice said in a state­ment. “We will work with the cur­rent and fu­ture ad­min­is­tra­tions to en­sure the best out­comes for Bri­tain.” — AP

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHI­GAN: In this Tues­day, Nov. 8, 2016 file photo, Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump speaks at a cam­paign rally. — AP

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