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European Union - Relations w/ USA

Much like Russia, Donald Trump was actively trying to break up the European Union and get separate agreements with individual countries. Europe has truly broken up with US foreign policy, one of Moscow's most important foreign policy goals. On 18 May 2018 Putin found warm words on Donald Trump, saying "I understand the US president, he protects his business interests. He wants to push his product to the European market." According to Putin, "Donald is not just the US president; he is also a strong, good entrepreneur."

The EU was losing patience with trying to be friends with Donald Trump. Trump had no hesitation in dismissing European interests and trans-Atlantic concerns. Relations between the US and the European Union were tense with the possibility of more problems ahead. Only Trump could have allowed such a thing to happen. The Europeans had a historic opportunity to break with US hegemony, to once and for all pursue their own foreign policy, which they really have not been able to do for the past seventy or eighty years. European nations are tired of being vassal states to Washington, and being dictated to on what to do. The Europeans see this as an opportunity to deviate from that pattern and pursue their own foreign policy.

On 08 May 2015 Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, describing it as a "horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made," thus prompting a massive backlash from other signatories to the accord. As many voiced their concerns over Donald Trump’s move, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker did not remain on the sidelines either, slamming Washington for "no longer" willing to "cooperate with other parts of the world." Juncker said "At this point, we have to replace the United States, which as an international actor has lost vigor, and because of it, in the long term, influence." The EU chief suggested that Europe should take over the US’ role as global leader.

Immediately after Trump’s announcement, the EU, France, the UK and Germany all said they reject that move, and that they will move ahead without the US. EU officials threatened to install so-called "blocking regulations" to protect EU firms doing business in Iran from any possible US sanctions. A blocking statute is a law that attempts to hinder application of a law made by a foreign jurisdiction. Originally developed in 1996 to get around a US trade embargo on Cuba and sanctions related to Iran and Libya, it was never enacted because disagreements were settled politically.

Also, France and other EU nations announced they will start offering euro-denominated credits to Iranian companies, in order to bypass the dollar and American companies completely. All of Iran's top trade partners in the EU are reportedly working on similar mechanisms, which would preclude the possibility of US sanctions.

High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini stressed that the bloc reserved the right to act in its security interests, calling on the international community to preserve the JCPOA. "Let me say, I am particularly worried by the announcements tonight of new sanctions… The European Union is determined to preserve it [the Iran nuclear deal]. We expect the rest of the international community to continue to do its part to guarantee that it continues to be implemented," she said.

Commenting on the US withdrawal from the deal, Merkel said that Europe can no longer rely on the US "to protect it," adding that "Europe must take its destiny in its own hands." A cover of the 123 May 2018 issue of German magazine Der Spiegel portrayed US President Donald Trump as a middle finger, flipping the bird. It was released just a few days after the US caused sharp criticism among European politicians by pulling from the Iran nuclear deal. The magazine cover had an inscription "Good Bye, Europe," implying that Trump's decision on the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement has seriously damaged relations between Berlin and Washington.

Tusk lashed out at the US president, blasting his decision to pull out from the Iranian nuclear deal and stirring up trade disputes with other countries, and lamenting that one does not need enemies with friends like Trump. "Looking at latest decisions of @realDonaldTrump someone could even think: with friends like that who needs enemies. But frankly, EU should be grateful. Thanks to him we got rid of all illusions. We realise that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm."

The EU found itself between the devil and the deep blue sea as Washington has announced a new round of anti-Russian sanctions, targeting Europe's most valuable aluminum supplier, Rusal, and threatened to exit the Iran nuclear deal. Both moves may inflict heavy economic losses on EU member states. Washington's 06 April 2018 sanctions on Moscow, announced in response to the attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, may eventually backfire on the US' European allies since they remain dependent on supplies from Russia's Rusal aluminum company, which is subjected to US restrictions. "European allies accuse the White House of the 'economic egoism'," Sputnik contributor Igor Gashkov noted. "From 30 to 40 percent of European aluminum is supplied by Russia. Leading companies of the Old Continent, for instance Volkswagen, could suffer losses due to their long-established economic ties. The leaders of France, Germany and Italy believe that the wording of the new anti-Russian sanctions should be revised."

Germany demonstrated "disloyalty" to the US by paving the way for the implementation of the Russia-led Nord Stream 2 initiative regardless of Washington's displeasure and threats. France is also involved in the pipeline project.

In the wake of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to Washington, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in an 06 May 2018 interview to the ARD broadcaster expressed his deep concern over the development of the transatlantic relations. "We have to grow up and I hope that in this process we are gradually coming to an end… but frankly speaking the development of transatlantic relations really concerns me," Germany's President Steinmeier said. He explained that the reason behind his anxiety is not because he "is looking at a president with some irritating Twitter messages."

"The new administration in Washington perceives Europe not as a part of a world community ??within which countries cooperate, but rather as an arena where every country has to find its way around," the politician clarified. Steinmeier went on on saying that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron "did the right thing in Washington," since they pointed at European interests not only in the sphere of trade, but also stressed the necessity to preserve the Iran nuclear deal.

Trade tensions had been growing since 23 March 2018, when Donald Trump ordered to introduce a 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% tax on aluminum, claiming to protect the US producers from unfair competition and boost national security. This move sparked discontent among the key US trading partners, especially the EU. Brussels has taken a tough stance on the matter, as its chief officials claim that retaliatory measures inherent in a full-scale trade war would be taken if the EU isn't excluded from new protective tariffs. Following the international discontent, the US introduced temporary exemptions to some of its allies until May 1. Later, Washington extended the exemptions for the European Union, Canada and Mexico for 30 days in order to make time for talks on the terms of steel and aluminum imports.

Chairman of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said that appropriate response measures would be presented – proportional and solid. As Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on 20 February 2018 referring to sources in the European Commission, the penalties can be imposed on the widest range of American goods and products – from orange juice to motorcycles and whiskey, including such agricultural products as potatoes and tomatoes. The EU response measures would be sophisticated-vindictive: the blow was supposed to be inflicted on goods that are of great importance for the constituencies in which Trump and his policies enjoy particular support.

Donald Trump hit back, saying the European Union has been "terrible" with the U.S. on trade. "We lost $151 billion last year dealing with the European Union," Trump told reporters 17 May 2018, referring to the U.S. trade deficit with the 28-nation bloc. "So they can call me all sorts of names. And if I were them, I'd call me names also, because it's not going to happen any longer."

US officials pushed back at reports that America's ties with European allies are frayed over the Trump administration's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. "We agree on more than we disagree," said State Department Policy Planning Director Brian Hook during a telephone briefing 18 May 2018 with reporters. "People are overstating the disagreement between the U.S. and Europe." Hook said "We believe that our shared values and commitment to confront the common security challenges will transcend any disagreements over the JCPOA," referring to the 2015 Iran nuclear accord with major powers.

Donald Trump accused the European Union of taking advantage of America in trade, saying the era of “global freeloading” of the United States is over, escalating tensions with Washington's long-standing allies. “We love the countries of the European Union. But the European Union, of course, was set up to take advantage of the United States,” Trump said 27 June 2018 at a rally in the state of North Dakota. “And you know what, we can’t let that happen.”

“The era of global freeloading and taking advantage of the United States is over,” Trump said. Trump repeated his claims that Brussels is cheating Washington on trade, saying the US lost over $150 billion on trade with the EU last year. “We had a trade deficit…because they send the Mercedes in, they send the BMWs in, they send their products in [and when] we sent things to them, they say ‘No, thank you, we don’t take your product,” Trump said. “For all you free traders out there, that’s not free trade, that’s stupid trade.”

“I said to them, if you treat us that way and you don’t take down your barriers, if you’re not going to treat us fairly then we are going to tax all those beautiful Mercedes Benzes."

The EU on 29 June 2018 imposed a range of tariffs on goods worth $3.3 billion in a tit-for-tat response to Trump's decision to apply stiff tariffs on European steel and aluminum exports. In response Trump threatened to slap a 20 percent tariff on European car imports, heightening worries of a trade war which could dent growth on both sides of the Atlantic.

Ambassador James D. Melville announced 29 June 2018 that he had decided to resign. Recent statements by U.S. President Donald Trump that the EU was "set up to take advantage of the United States" and that "NATO is as bad as NAFTA" are not only factually wrong, but prove that it is time for him to go, Melville wrote. Melville, whose career in the US Foreign Service spanned 33 years, had been ambassador to Estonia since 2015. Melville served under six presidents and 11 secretaries of state.

The resignation came ahead of a pivotal NATO summit, where the United States' closest historic allies feared that Trump would lambast them and further isolate Washington from its allies after heated disputes over trade, defense spending issues, and the US exit from the Iran nuclear deal. Allies feared that the optics of Trump trashing allies in Brussels, followed by a meeting in Finland with Russian President Vladimir Putin, will undercut an already anemic trans-Atlantic partnership.

The fact that Ambassador James D. Melville decided to resign in his frustration with President Donald Trump's comments about, and treatment of, European allies shows the extent of how Trump's actions are destroying cooperation in the democratic world, member of the European parliament and former long-time Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet said. "The U.S. ambassador to Estonia stepping down in protest to president Trump destroying U.S.-European relations is another example of someone who spent decades building the relations between Europe and the U.S. not being able to bear the speed at which Trump is thrashing cooperation in the democratic world," Paet told the Baltic News Service. "Trump's verbal, political and economic attacks against the EU and EU-U.S. relations have done substantial damage to the trust between Europe and the United States as well as the two sides' practical cooperation. Trump's actions have also divided U.S. society."

Which countries can be considered "friends" of the US? Nowadays, the answer is probably: no one. Even Washington's traditional allies may need to think twice before giving their answer. "I think we have a lot of foes," said US President Donald Trump Sunday during an interview with CBS News. Apart from naming Russia a "foe in certain respects" and China "a foe economically," Trump complained that "the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade." Amid endless quarrels with other NATO members about defense spending, Trump wrapped up his tour in Brussels, during which he also accused Germany of being a "captive" of Russia for Berlin's pipeline deal with Moscow.

The United States downgraded the diplomatic status of the European Union’s delegation in Washington in 2018 without formally announcing the change or telling Brussels. The relegation also may have been motivated by a wish to reverse a decision taken by the previous Obama administration, which upgraded the status of the delegation of the 28-nation bloc in 2016. Previously, the US treated the EU delegation and its ambassador as representatives of a country. The change, which was thought to have been made last October or November, downgraded the diplomatic status of the EU delegation to that of representing an international organization, a much lower standing. This only came to light when the bloc’s envoy in the US capital, Irish diplomat David O’Sullivan, discovered he wasn’t being invited to certain events. The demotion of the EU representative was reversed following bilateral talks in December 2018. In a speech in Brussels in December, as the diplomatic downgrade was being discussed between US and EU officials, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Trump’s “America First” policy was reshaping the post-Second World War system by recognizing the importance of sovereign states over multilateral institutions. He criticized “bureaucrats” for believing multilateralism is “an end in itself,” and cast doubt on the EU’s commitment to its citizens.

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Page last modified: 09-01-2019 18:52:19 ZULU