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Security and defence: Trump at the White House, a wake-up call for Europe

The States of the Old Continent had historically relied on their ally across the ocean and on NATO for military protection, especially in the days of the Soviet Union. After the election of “The Donald” the overall picture has changed. The United States might want to back out from the European and Middle-Eastern stage. This highlights the need for renewed political and operational agreement. The theme was at the centre of a debate between EU ministers, with some steps forward

The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States of America carries with it the certainty that the great ally, our “guardian” across the Atlantic, on which we could rely for a long time, no longer seems to be as reliable as it had been so far. This situation sparked off irritation and uncertainty in Europe. But the shock that hit politics and public opinion also acts as a wake up call. It should be remembered that after World War II, when a large part of Europe was destroyed and the national, economic and social life languished,

the United States helped the Old Continent get back on its feet. They protected Europe from the aggressive policies of the communist regime of the Soviet Union,

they contributed to the creation of the material conditions for reconstruction and encouraged European populations to make a fresh start under the banner of democracy. Thanks to the US protective shield, liberated Europe gradually recovered her self-confidence, ushering in a new definition of the Continent via a unification process. This regained form of self-confidence, notably due to the perception of a strong commitment for Europe’s unity, comprehended the seed of emancipation from the United States of America, although Europe continued depending on it for a long time, notably in terms of security. America prevailed and has been decisive also in NATO, which provided a formally regulated foundation to security-based relations between Europe and America, making EU member Countries co-responsible both in political and military terms, thereby ensuring equal footing with their US partner. However, since the onset the challenge was

How Europe was going to act if one day America’s guidance and defence could no longer be taken for granted

owing to internal developments. Given this possibility, for decades efforts have been placed in hastening the pace and the resilience of integration for the benefit of the European Community, and later on of the European Union as a whole. The underlying claim was that Europeans don’t choose the President of the United States, yet the future of Europe largely depends on the former’s political actions. Moreover, Europeans have increasingly been snuggled in a comforting situation of dependence, due to short-sightedness or convenience. There appeared to be no more major threats, especially after the fall of the Soviet Union and the liberation of peoples and States of Central and Eastern Europe.

It was believed that special defence expenditures, closer cooperation, and the overcoming of the doctrine of national sovereignty were no longer necessary

given the fact that in case of emergency the US would have taken care of Europe’s security. However, contrary to all forecasts, the whole world – including the “European neighbourhood” – has become a more dangerous place, perhaps even more than in the years of the Cold War. Against this background, which in the case of Europe is marked by a set of serious crises, the new head of Washington seems unwilling to accept that Europeans fail to give an adequate contribution to the security costs of the Western world.

This scenario must encourage the national governments of European Countries to finally work together

in order to create the grounds for speaking with a sole voice on the global political stage. This means that they should organize themselves in an effective manner and finally make a decisive move in the direction of a Union of security and defence. A few days after the US President was elected EU Ministers for Defence and Foreign Affairs met in Brussels to discuss the current circumstances and possible scenarios, and to share views on future actions. They didn’t intend to go so far – as some suggested – to start planning the creation of a European army. However, they were more united in accepting to take appropriate measures in the direction of a European union of security. Thus European ministers have decided to develop common projects enabling them to act independently as EU. The agreement was probably made possible by the fact that the UK, which for decades had stalled any initiative in this regard, has stopped participating in the deliberations owing to the decision to leave the EU. It seems that the wake-up call from America has delivered its first result. But Europe’s security will be ensured by a Union of defence only if the EU will have also operative democratic and federal structures capable of validating the ensuing decisions and confrontations.

 

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