A sluggish cold war between Donald Trump’s Administration and EU leaders intensifies and Iran’s issue is just top of the iceberg.
In a very short period, Washington has managed to create problems for Brussels related to a series of less evident but still strategic issues. For instance, the Paris Climate Agreement bears little relation to ecology, but it is of critical importance for EU’s economic interests. Europe experiences energy deficit and the situation is not likely to improve any time soon. This creates ideas to deprive partners having more resources of their natural advantages, create problems for them and then sell solutions to those problems.
Europe is committed to Middle East settlement, which is incompatible with one-sided pro-Israeli actions of the United States and is directly connected with the key strategic interests – EU is doomed to massive import of labor force and it is very hard for it to avoid masses of hostile population on its own territory. Washington has an unequivocal intention to deprive Europe of $150 billion budget surplus in the trade with U.S. by making it increase military costs dramatically (4% of GDP is quite impressive). All this just creates more discrepancies between the allies.
Are these transatlantic solidarity problems just local deviation from mainstream or are they fundamental? The second option is more like to be true.
Over seventy years of relative comfortable co-existence of direct rivals has become history, apparently.
The Marshall Plan appeared when over half of the world’s industrial production was concentrated in U.S. (market was rather free for U.S. to afford, for instance, painless devaluation of dollar). Relative idyll became history yet in the second half of 60s – awakening of Europe’s economy brought to light “inborn” differences of Euro-Atlantic society. In 1971, Americans started settling their economic problems at the expense of European partners without any excuses. Meantime, Western economies were in “greenhouse conditions” at that moment facing practically no competition. Eastern bloc was not a full alternative to “democracies” in the global market.
Collapse of the Soviet Union and progressive deindustrialization of U.S. became key factors of a new idyll. U.S. turned into a market rather than rival.
The point is that reserves of post-Soviet growth were exhausted long ago, and competition by new industrial countries is more than evident. U.S., in turn, seeks to get back its industry through methods resembling 50-year-old scenarios. Furthermore, there are no dozens of thousands of Soviet tanks on the other side of Elba. In other words, strategic interests of EU and U.S. are evidently opposite, and they have less and less common points. Yet in 2012, observers said: “One should admit that the seeming peace between Europe and U.S. is not a world of cooperation, new initiatives or bold prospects. On the other hand, there is no significant allied support between Barack Obama’s Cabinet and EU in fiscal policy, environment and security. Moreover, peaceful transatlantic relations just reflect deep dissociation.” In fact, two main parts of “golden billion” are kept together by inertia. Trump just let the accumulated disagreements to come to light.
An outbreak of Russophobia after 2014 temporarily silenced the problem, but quick “victory of democracy” was failed and sharing fur of an alive bear turned out to be rather an expensive and useless undertaking. Provocations in “Salisbury style” will continue, but such methods are neither universal nor long-term.
What are the prospects? Of course, Euro-Atlantic solidarity will not turn into anachronism just tomorrow. However, “separation” of Washington and Brussels will just grow over time. Economic niche occupied by EU and U.S. tends to narrow. Heavy debt burden that makes dissolving institutions of social state along with ageing population will actually result in decline of solvent demand in the West. As to technological prevalence, it will be neutralized with progress of China and its partner developing states. Competition of EU and U.S. seems inevitable in the long-term outlook. How quickly will it grow into a political issue?
By 2014, growth of anti-American sentiments in Europe seemed to be a long-term tendency connected with growing “material” discrepancies. This tendency may reactivate now. Of course, it will not make Moscow and Brussels allies, but it will curtail Washington’s capacities, for sure.