With the election of Donald Trump, the relationship between the United States and the European Union will undoubtedly change drastically. This, of course, will have consequences for the transatlantic relations that Barack Obama helped to build during his presidency. Everything from trade relations to soft diplomacy measures between the two entities will be affected by this historic moment. The global markets have become more volatile; many Europeans are at a loss of what to think about the United States, while Donald Trump’s connections to Russia could usher in a new wave of shifts in global power. This election will have enormous consequences not only for the United States, but for the rest of the world. The EU’s benefits of maintaining relations with the United States may decrease, and Donald Trump’s election has already been seen by many as a repeat of what happened in Germany in 1933. At that time, an out of touch elite lost power when it couldn’t listen and respond to the needs of the masses. Then came a savior to bring the country out of darkness. Only what ended up happening under the rule of Hitler wasn’t what the public expected. The painful memories of World War II that still dictate much of Europe’s political environment have rendered the progressive political processes that have occurred ever since the EU was established.
The referendum movement in the UK and the election of Trump have proven that the powerful bureaucrats of these countries are extremely out of touch with the people they govern. The inaccuracy of the media, the polls, and the political elite has proven that the agendas of those in power, who own these institutions, aren’t as influential and representative as they once were. This election reflected the death rattle that is the oldest citizens voting for the most reactionary policies, as the millennials consistently voted with progressive social policies that reflect the status quo in places like Germany. With both the UK and the United States moving backwards politically, how will Europe maintain their relationship with these countries? What does this mean for the New Transatlantic Agenda (NTA) that was adopted in 1995? The measures that the US and Europe took over seventy years ago, measures that would ensure that no belligerent leader could start wars and threaten global safety, have ended with this election. Donald Trump will surely usher in new parameters for European engagement, and this may have devastating consequences for the United Nations, the OECD, the International Monetary Fund, and countless other organizations that enlist the help of the United States and the EU to ensure world peace.
It is up to the European Union to decide how it will react to the Donald Trump presidency. Whether this means increasing or decreasing transatlantic ties can’t immediately be predicted. This event occurred only days ago, and the world is still reeling. At the very least, the EU must learn from the mistakes of the UK and the United States. They have their own economic, social, and immigration problems to deal with, and clearly the United States has shown that radicalism and reactionary thinking is not the answer. The continent’s disenchantment with the European Union, the slow economic growth, and the immigrant crisis mirror the same crises happening in the United States. The transatlantic electorate has been marginalized, jobless, and fed up for some time now, and these twin crises in the United States and the EU necessitate collaboration to effectively and realistically address the concerns of their respective populaces. This must be a multifaceted effort enlisting the help of international organizations, the global media, and extensive data to look at the realities of the common citizen in the West.
If the EU chooses to learn from the mistakes of the United States, the media, just to use as an example, is an enormous resource for data and historical information. The EU can investigate where the American media went wrong in predicting the 2016 election and utilize this intelligence to better understand the shortcomings of their own political systems. The EU can work to answer many of the questions that the American government failed to answer in time. When will job growth accelerate? When will the economy start growing at a healthy rate again? What can be done to most effectively care for the immigrants fleeing to our borders? These are the just a few of the questions that plagued those who voted for Trump. The government could have preemptively utilized media to increase transparency of public services and legislation, but unfortunately the profit driven media elite in the United States failed to pay attention to those who needed these public services the most. This seems to be akin to what occurred leading up to the Brexit election, and who’s to say whether these mechanisms will be at play during the coming elections throughout Europe?
The best course of action for the EU right now is to ensure that the mechanisms that rendered the election of Trump in America don’t continue on European soil. Both the United States and the UK woke up the morning after these historical events wondering, “how did it come to this?” The EU must make sure it doesn’t meet the same flummoxed and terrified fate. There are sure to be changes in the transatlantic relationship during the next four years, and the extent to which Europe is adversely affected by Donald Trump’s election is in the hands of those in power in the EU. One thing is for sure: it is time for the EU to listen to its people. Where the United States and the UK failed, Europe still has a chance to succeed in continuing progress. The transatlantic relationship depends on it.