Jeff, thank you for joining us.
If we could strip away the politicking & campaigning of this contentious election season, and more specifically focus on looking forward - broadly speaking, what sort of impact will this result have on the EU?
Jake, it's a pleasure to be with you.
Stripping away the campaign isn't easy -- not just because of the intensity of this election, but also because there is little information to indicate what the substance of a Trump administration foreign policy will be, so one has only a few campaign statements, rather than detailed policy proposals, to go on.
There is going to be a complicated time ahead. Europe of course is grappling with its internal problems (e.g. how to deal with Brexit, the future of EU integration, migration, economic growth, and several others). How a Trump administration will relate to Europe is unclear - will it focus on key European countries...analogous to the intergovernmental approach? Or will it work with Brussels? It's not really clear at the moment. Trump has spoken with Chancellor Merkel today, but there hasn't been a lot of contact with other leaders as far as we are aware.
I think trade issues are going to change enormously. Whether there is scope for trade negotiations in the near term is doubtful. I think there will be more focus from a Trump administration on NAFTA and existing agreements at the start, rather than open negotiations like TTIP. And frankly, no matter who would have won the U.S. election, it's clear that the enthusiasm inside Europe itself for TTIP is low.
On defense, everyone following international security knows what Trump said about NATO and U.S. alliances during the campaign. How far he will push that agenda is unclear; you see some people on the Republican side interpreting his position to be a commitment to NATO, but an emphasis on more burden-sharing from Europe. That's possible, but we won't know more about that until his cabinet nominations are clear and the policy is developed.
The recent initiatives in the EU to strengthen its defense policy, in my view, can be helpful in the transatlantic relationship because they show Europe interested in taking on greater responsibility for security. But there may be a greater need in the coming weeks and months to demonstrate how that will lead concretely to greater capabilities, not just economizing. And also to be more explicit about how this won't diminish European commitment to NATO and increased defense resources.
There are plenty of other issues -- climate change, migration, Syria, and so forth, but I will stop there for the moment.
I'm glad you started there because his comments on NATO are very concerning when taken at face value. It also relates to a recent focus on the EU's internal defense policies, and a rise in EU Army conversation.
But there is also another issue that often goes hand in hand with that discussion, and that is the question of where does the UK fit in following Brexit. In fact, Trump & Brexit have often been linked throughout their campaigns. Some even predicted Trump's victory this past summer based off the results of the British Referendum.
So looking at this current landscape, where we find a far-right voting electorate both in the US and in the UK, are there other countries in Europe at risk of facing a similar shift? Will those segments of other populations be emboldened by these developments?
Naturally, the potential for a shift in other European countries toward populism and nationalism is one of the clear implications of the Brexit vote and the U.S. election. In countries like France, National Front leader Marine Le Pen has characterized it as a vindication; opinion polls strongly suggest she will make the run-off round of the French presidential election in April, unless something very significant changes. In the Netherlands, the March parliamentary election may see gains by Wilders' Freedom Party. You can put the Austrian presidential election in that category, and the Bulgarian presidential election, though each of these cases has their own very specific context.
In other places, the expected gains by populist/nationalist/anti-EU forces may be more modest. In Germany, the "Alternative fuer Deutschland" party polls at about 13-14%, which is significant but it has not shifted much in the past six months, and it is not likely to bring about a dramatic shift in how Germany is governed. The four more-or-less mainstream parties (CDU, SPD, Greens, Free Democrats) have the support of 70% of the population. It might make a three-party coalition in Germany more likely after the autumn 2017 Bundestag election.
Also, assuming that the UK proceeds with an Article 50 declaration in the spring of next year, the actual start of negotiations between the UK and the EU may dampen some of the enthusiasm of European electorates for parties promising easy rollback of European integration. When specific issues are on the table, it may be a lot more sobering.
Yes, and the reality of a Donald Trump presidency might also be sobering.
His rhetoric on many subjects has been quite shocking, perhaps none more than his "Lock Your Doors" stance on Syrian refugees. It's one of his most offensive positions, and there were a number of them, and it's one that he is yet to walk back. His opinion on immigrants in general seems to be highly controversial and, as he contends to potentially deport over 10,000,000 immigrants currently in the United States, it appeals to a xenophobic populace still reeling in the current economy.
What could such a hard-lined stance mean for other countries willing and looking for solutions to assist the ever-growing refugee population?
There would be several impacts of an attempt by the United States to deport millions of undocumented migrants. Some would be internal: what would the resource costs be of staffing, organizing, and implementing such a policy; what would the public reaction be once this began to affect people in their communities, rather than an abstract discussion of migration? There would be impacts on U.S. relations in the Western Hemisphere: would countries admit people who were being deported, and would they take foreign policy steps in response?
And of course there is the question about migration in Europe, which has been growing in importance since before the U.S. election campaign. The nature of the issue is different across Europe -- there is evidence that in the UK, for example, the principal concern of many voters was legal migration from within the EU, rather than refugees coming via the Middle East and North Africa. That is different in other European countries. So this issue varies from country to country and pre-dates Donald Trump. Nonetheless, his victory after stressing anti-immigrant measures will give an impetus, and we already see many political leaders trying to capitalize on it.
It is also worth noting that there are cleavages within societies on migration, as the colleagues at the Pew Research Center have documented (http://www.pewglobal.org/20...). In the aggregate, Europeans identify ISIS, climate change, economic uncertainty, and cyberattacks as greater threats than refugees/migrants coming from Iraq and Syria. But some countries' populations rank the refugee situation highly as a threat: Poland, Greece, Hungary and Italy (http://www.pewglobal.org/20...). And it is interesting to note that the countries that have taken in the greatest number of refugees (as a proportion of population) - Sweden and Germany - are the most relaxed about that issue as a threat.
So, that's a little different from the question you asked, but it highlights the political challenges in the future and the variegated opinions across Europe.
Wow, that's interesting data.
Jeff, thank you again for your time this week. You've laid out for us many of the complexities and the uncertainties going forward.
On a final note, what is a subject we haven't discussed yet that may prove volatile as Donald Trump begins his tenure in the White House?
Jake - I've enjoyed the exchange. So, one last thought before I sign off:
I think the reaction among political parties inside Europe to Trump's victory is one that could have a big effect on how transatlantic relations develop. Will center-left parties in Europe campaign, essentially, against Trump? You could see that happening in some countries. If so, will that shore up their support, and will it weaken center-right parties, or sap support from the more extreme parties on the right (and in some places on the far left)? There has been a lot of focus on ascendant far-right parties, but not a lot of thought yet about how the left will respond.
On that note -- wishing you and all the readers the very best --