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Europe in get-ready mode
by Thanos Kalamidas
2017-02-04 11:48:09
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Odd but Theresa May thinks that she found a new way to press her European semi-former partners for a Brexit on her rules by apointing herself ...mediator between EU and Trump. The question now is if the EU needs a mediator with Trump, if Theresa May can be this mediator and how big problem Trump can be for Europe so the Europeans need to seek for a mediator.

malta01_400Today the 28 European leaders meet in an unofficial summit in Valletta, Malta, with a series of issues to talk, most of them behind closed doors. Trump is not an official priority. Refugees is the official priority and Ms Merkel has a lot to say after meeting the Turkish president Erdogan and his indirect blackmails. Turkey has become a very sensitive issue for the European leadership after Erdogan took off his democratic veil. They have to balance somehow this relationship otherwise Erdogan will make true his threat (and he has exhibit already that he can) to flood Europe with refugees. This is the one side, the other side of the same coin is that Erdogan is an untrustworthy neighbour with questionable even personal aims that have nothing good for Europe. And the Europeans know it. Plus that it is clear by now – including the reasoning for the Brexit - that the Europeans don’t want Turkey in EU despite all reinsurances from some European leaders.

Until now, Europe managed to diplomatically bribe Erdogan or better buy his cooperation with millions of euros and favours but Erdogan has become greedy and nothing seems to satisfy him anymore. The fact is that doesn’t matter how much and for how long you feed a blackmailer, since they see the blackmail working they keep asking for more and more and this minute EU is the victim of a blackmail which somehow has to end. This somehow has to be a united political decision, ready for the consequences and the platform for this decision has to be laid now, in Valletta so everybody can be prepared.

Don’t underestimate the problem, it is huge and has caused a lot of pain and trouble to all European countries. The latest rise of xenophobia, the far-right and the Nazis has partly its roots in the refugees’ issue. Ms Le Pen in France holds a whole presidential campaign on this issue while Timo Soini in Finland and Geert Wilders in Holland flag the issue in every single chance. That’s why a decision about the relationship with Turkey is so sensitive and serious and that’s what makes it priority in this summit and not Theresa’s dreams for mediation.

The economics come after, just like in every other EU summit. This is where the Greek economy issue stands first. Another issue that demands a political decision. Nothing much seems to have change regarding the Greek economy, on the contrary the whole issue has gradually become an obstacle and distraction to the EU growth. Plus it somehow works contagiously to other member states like Italy and Spain. This is a problem that has to find a stable solution not only for economic reasons but also because Greece is the immediate neighbour of Turkey and the entrance point of Erdogan’s blackmails. You see these issues somehow meet.

Trump is part of the economic issue which also demands political handling. America and Europe were always friends and allies in the surface for one or better two reasons. History and tradition. Or better Europe is the only American family. And as a family they always stood next to each other, fighting common enemies and helping when necessary. That in the surface. Underneath there was always an economic war between the two sides, an economic war that has gone since slavery. Actually slavery was the first reasoning for this economic war and according to the late American historian Howard Zinn, the reasoning behind the American Revolution. Otherwise a constant economic antagonism always existed.

However, the creation of EU brought this antagonism more to the surface. As long it was a flexible economic community didn’t matter, it was easier to access the markets of the union’s members but when the flexible community turned into a Union aiming a common social, financial, foreign and defence policies, targeting in the end the creation of one federation of member states, everything changed. Now it was not just about antagonism, now it became competition and Europe was standing in front of the American dream for global economic dominance. The establishment of a common currency that immediately became a strong competitor to the dollar made things even worst.

Twice the last twenty years this antagonism reached a dangerous peak. Once with George Bush senior and once with George W. Bush Jr. The second time any further aggression was stopped because of the 9-11 events and the invasion to Iraq, but during Bush senior administration and with the excuse the iron prices, things got really bad. You see Europe has one strange advantage, the control of the global raw materials market through trans-governmental agreements (old colonies etc.) even with countries USA cannot reach.  And surprisingly most of the countries that produce raw materials have found euro much more trustworthy than the political-oriented, motivated and controlled dollar.

The same time and while EU has found a balance in economic agreements with China for example, where there is control and regulations, the same thing doesn’t seem to apply in the relations with USA investors. Whilst a lot of European companies have invest in USA (including a lot in the car industry that lately has taken over the American market) a lot of American companies have proved to be a “scum” - to put it mildly - with best example every single investment Trump has done, followed by the football investors. Actually the only American companies that kept some dignity and respect to the European regulations are the IT and communication companies of the Silicon Valley. A bright negative example are the American agricultural products that a lot violate European health regulations in a genetic modified form.

There are many more issues that have escalate antagonism and competition between EU and USA the last decades and Trump has not triggered or created any of them. What Trump did lately toting the antagonism is to add principal and values issues. His arrogant, self-centred, authoritarian attitude that obviously will become USA policy and all the things he said this last year have provoked the Europeans and also woke up ghosts of a forgotten (thanks to Obama) past. Another Donald, a Rumsfeld this time, has caused major anger in the past trying to divide EU with his “old and new Europeans” and his “with or against us” attitude with all the consequences and the …liberty fries. That was a good lesson for EU and especially for the French and the Germans, a lesson they never forgot.

So, in all that comes Theresa with the brilliant idea to be the mediator between EU and Trump because ….because what? Theresa May was and is a temporary solution in a job nobody wanted. Her real enemies are not in the opposition but in her own party that’s why she tries to embrace the Brexiteers hoping that she will get votes over the Conservative Party in coming elections and somehow keep her seat and her visit and embrace to Donald Trump was part of the same plan. It didn’t work in her own country in Britain, with her own party and she thinks that it will work with Merkel? The British parliament was furious with her invitation to Trump to visit Britain and that she did it in the name of the Queen. The same time the European parliament presses the EU leadership not to accept the new US ambassador and the French president Hollande was very caustic in his statements on his arrival to Valletta about Donald Trump. And Hollande might be a president with an expired day but he still is the elected president of France.

Donald Trump didn’t come as a surprise for the EU leadership and actually beyond ethical reasoning EU states are the only ones who can actually negotiate with him because of the common interests and …family ties. But Trump in just a few days governing has managed something else, which probably was not his aim, and he did that for the Europeans and especially for the Union. With his rhetoric and actions has managed to awake Europism. He has managed to unite the Europeans in front of a common threat and Trump is a threat to the European values. And values is something the Europeans take very seriously. He actually managed to unite even …old Europe with new Europe and all of them under Merkel’s umbrella. He even pushed the Europeans to take the long waiting political decisions that will strengthen them internally

There is more. Europism is the worst enemy of xenophobia and Nazism that has risen lately in Europe. While Le Pen tries to identify herself as the European Trump she will find out that Trumpism is a disease. A virus Europeans don’t like. Furthermore Trump has hurt Theresa. Her embrace to Trumpism, her idea to use Trump as a tool in her negotiation with her semi-former partners has killed her credibility in a game of chess she tries to make it look like a poker game. She has actually lost before even beginning. Thanks to Trump.

During the summit all European leaders supposedly will inform the union for their communications with Trump and the general spirit is: get ready. The fact that the European defence mechanism is also part of the talks is a sign that the Europeans like to be prepared for Trump’s next NATO move.

Finally and regarding Theresa’s role as a mediator, the best answer came from Dalia Grybauskaite, the Lithuanian President, on a brief interview for BBC: “I don’t think there is a necessity for a bridge – we communicate with the Americans on Twitter.”


PS. For the ones who wonder, no Brexit is not part of the real conversation before Britain activates article 50 of the Union, doesn’t matter what May says for internal reasons.

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Emanuel Paparella2017-02-04 12:57:55
A long time ago Franklin Benjamin, used to advise another Union: “Gentlemen, either we hang together here, or we will shall surely hang separately.” Apt advise for those forming a union, or considering leaving an alliance; for there is a bear roaming around outside the union and alliance whose strategy seems to be “divide and conquer, and it has allies functioning as Trojan horses.” Perhaps it behooves to hang together for a while longer and shun those who would create divisions and dissensions.

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