Cracks in the Trump-Europe relationship are turning into a chasm
USA - For more than 70 years, the transatlantic alliance has served as the unshakable foundation of European stability and underpinned the values of the US-led Western order. In 2020, it appears that relationship is being rethought on both sides of the Atlantic. Earlier this week, the European Union declined to include US in its list of “safe countries”, meaning that American travelers will be unwelcome inside the bloc for the foreseeable future, due to the eyewatering US coronavirus infection numbers. Controversially, the list includes China - the country where the virus originated -on the condition of reciprocal arrangements.
EU officials insist that the decision was not political and based entirely on epidemiological evidence, in the hope this would pacify US President Donald Trump, a man who has attacked the bloc on several occasions. However, others privately concede that had Brussels wanted to make the pill more palatable for an American audience, they could have added a sugar coating. “In the past, I can see that we might have not included China in order to keep the US happy”, says an EU diplomat not authorized to speak on record about how the decision was made. It might seem a stretch to take this incident as evidence of a rupture in transatlantic relations, until you place it in the current geopolitical context. It’s no secret that Washington takes less of an interest in European affairs these days. And it’s well known that European nations actively seek greater diplomatic autonomy from America. This is especially true for the 27 member states of the European Union.
One of the ways Brussels thinks it can distance itself from DC is by engaging with China as a strategic and economic partner, decreasing its reliance on one of the world’s superpowers by balancing its relationship with the other. In the past few years, Brussels has stuck to its guns on big, international matters as Trump tore everything up.
Think of the Paris Climate Accord, the Iran Nuclear deal, 5G, and you start to see a pattern of behavior in which the EU could be perceived to have sided with China over its oldest ally. Sure, it might be a ungenerous read of the situation, given the deep, established bond between Europe and the US, but in this context, any perceived friendliness to Beijing punches a very real bruise.
American travelers will be unwelcome inside the EU for the foreseeable future, due to the eyewatering US coronavirus infection numbers. (Photo:CNN)