Three Questions with Dr. Agnieszka Łada
Editor’s Note: The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) in Warsaw hosted a discussion with Dr. Agnieszka Łada, head of the European Program and senior analyst at the Institute of Public Affairs in Warsaw on Tuesday, February 28. Dr. Łada provided her perspective on the future of EU integration at the event and discussed short-term and long-term perspectives for the European Union and relations between the new U.S. president and Brussels.
With the election of Donald Trump as 45th president of the United States, a new chapter of transatlantic relations has been opened. Throughout the past 70 years, every U.S. administration has based their foreign policy on a core set of principles: the closest partners that the United States has in international affairs are European democratic states, its own security is indisputably linked to the liberal international world order, and U.S. prosperity is dependent on global free trade. Consequently, the vision of President Trump’s foreign policy toward Europe is currently of high interest to a global audience.
Q. Should Europe hold President Trump accountable for the changing U.S. foreign policy toward the EU, which adds up to the current crises among the club of 28?
Dr. Łada: The European Union has been in the crisis for many years already. Economic problems on the one hand, but also doubts by many Europeans regarding whether or not the EU can really deliver on its promises are just a few and most visible reasons for this crisis. The change in US foreign policy is one of the main concerns that Europeans should be worried about now and that should motivate them to integrate even further in order to look for common solutions. President Trump’s policy further complicates the existing issues in the EU. Instead of helping the European allies, the American president puts them in front of further challenges.
Q. What are the critical elements that should be addressed to ensure long-lasting European, and especially, Polish security?
Dr. Łada: Europeans, Poles especially, need to take a more active role in ensuring their security. They still should count on the United States, but increased military spending and more cooperation in Europe in regard to security policy is a necessity. Stronger European security policy should be complementary to the cooperation within NATO. Additionally, EU members should be aware that internally other EU members can perceive threats. There should be openness and cooperation in order to resolve these matters as they occur.
Q. Should the presidency of Donald Trump be seen as an opportunity rather than an obstacle for reshaping transatlantic relations?
Dr. Łada: Every change should be seen first as an opportunity for positive development. In this context, the new administration in the United States could bring some new, good, and needed ideas and goals to the table. However, in the case of Donald Trump we cannot be sure if the reshaping goes in a positive direction. The unpredictability of the U.S. administration as well as its controversial approach to the current state of play in the domestic and international matters sows doubt as to whether both sides can make use of this opportunity. One needs to keep in mind however that it was evident before Donald Trump took office that some aspects of the transatlantic relationship needed to be reworked. On both sides of the Atlantic the necessity of more engagement of the Europeans in security issues and taking more seriously the responsibility of the military and soft power of the European Union had been stressed (Transatlantic Relations After the Russia–Ukraine Conflict). According to these voices, engaging further could only improve the transatlantic cooperation. Looking at the most recent statement from the U.S. president that the European partners should deliver more, from this perspective, one could be more optimistic. At the end it all depends, however, on the willingness and engagement of both sides if the transatlantic relations will develop positively.
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.