America Needs a Strong Europe
Should Europe refocus on itself? Is it able to do so? The German Heinrich-Böll-Foundation interviewed GMF President Karen Donfried on some of the defining questions of current U.S.-European relationship.
Q: Ms. Donfried, where does the U.S.-European friendship stand in the times of Donald Trump?
Karen Donfried: The transatlantic friendship is still very relevant for both the U.S. and Europe. But things are more emotional now. We have a president who thinks that Europe treats America unfairly. Even though he is right in some of his criticism—keyword: European defense spending—Trump’s way of interacting with our European friends is very unconventional. We can see how trust in the relationship is dwindling. The coronavirus crisis has exacerbated this trend.
Q: Should Europe refocus on itself?
Karen Donfried: America needs a strong Europe. This has always been a dogma of U.S. foreign policy. However, Europe needs to become stronger, too. It is interesting to see how much the desire for European sovereignty vis-à-vis the U.S. seems to depend on who you ask. When I go to Paris, I hear people say that America is no longer a reliable partner and that Europe should strive for more autonomy. In Berlin, by contrast, the view is that the relationship with the United States will improve and return to where it was traditionally with a new president. Then I go to Warsaw and hear people say they like Donald Trump. One of their neighbors is Russia, and they are not sure if Germany and France would defend them when push comes to shove.
Q: How should transatlantic cooperation look in the future?
Karen Donfried: The answer to this question will largely depend on who wins the presidential election in November. The second unknown variable to this question is the coronavirus pandemic and the conclusions we derive from it. We can conclude either that cohesion between countries is key, or we conclude that re-orientation to our own country is the best way to go.