President Trump's first months in office: The course of transatlantic relations

23-05-2017

On 25 May 2017, President Trump attends the NATO Summit in Brussels, as well as meeting with top EU officials, including the Presidents of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council, Donald Tusk, and European Parliament, Antonio Tajani. A review of Trump's term thus far (using the 100-day benchmark) sheds light on current issues in transatlantic affairs in the context of this visit. While an address to Congress on 3 May by the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has helped to clarify the administration's approach, the implications of Trump’s ‘America First’ policy for EU-US cooperation are still far from clear. Unpredictability has marked President Trump’s time in office to date, and many analysts are yet to discern a firm strategic direction in his foreign policies. His proposed budget cuts for FY2018 have raised concerns on both sides of the Atlantic over a potential US retreat from its leadership on human rights and development. He has rolled back emissions regulations in the USA, but has not yet pulled out of the Paris Agreement, as promised during his campaign. Relations with Russia have fluctuated significantly. Trump has also notably altered his stance on certain issues; for example, he has acknowledged the importance of NATO, and sought to maintain good ties with China. Thus far his policy towards the Middle East has not constituted a radical departure from that of the previous administration, though as with his interactions with other world leaders, he has brought a personal touch to his exchanges with leaders from the region. Since the EU and US share common interests and cooperate in many areas, Trump’s disjointed approach has caused uncertainty in Europe. President Trump has not publicly addressed relations with the EU in the first months of his presidency, beyond acknowledging the value of a strong Europe during an April meeting with the Italian Prime Minister. Thus, the outcome of this Brussels visit will be important in establishing how EU-US relations will develop under the new administration.

On 25 May 2017, President Trump attends the NATO Summit in Brussels, as well as meeting with top EU officials, including the Presidents of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council, Donald Tusk, and European Parliament, Antonio Tajani. A review of Trump's term thus far (using the 100-day benchmark) sheds light on current issues in transatlantic affairs in the context of this visit. While an address to Congress on 3 May by the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has helped to clarify the administration's approach, the implications of Trump’s ‘America First’ policy for EU-US cooperation are still far from clear. Unpredictability has marked President Trump’s time in office to date, and many analysts are yet to discern a firm strategic direction in his foreign policies. His proposed budget cuts for FY2018 have raised concerns on both sides of the Atlantic over a potential US retreat from its leadership on human rights and development. He has rolled back emissions regulations in the USA, but has not yet pulled out of the Paris Agreement, as promised during his campaign. Relations with Russia have fluctuated significantly. Trump has also notably altered his stance on certain issues; for example, he has acknowledged the importance of NATO, and sought to maintain good ties with China. Thus far his policy towards the Middle East has not constituted a radical departure from that of the previous administration, though as with his interactions with other world leaders, he has brought a personal touch to his exchanges with leaders from the region. Since the EU and US share common interests and cooperate in many areas, Trump’s disjointed approach has caused uncertainty in Europe. President Trump has not publicly addressed relations with the EU in the first months of his presidency, beyond acknowledging the value of a strong Europe during an April meeting with the Italian Prime Minister. Thus, the outcome of this Brussels visit will be important in establishing how EU-US relations will develop under the new administration.