Even the 5th series of House of Cards can no longer compete with this. American Realpolitik has now trumped the supposedly implausible manoeuvring of Frank Underwood. But the pleasing thing about this is that Europe is the benefactor.
After almost 2 years of a vehement anti-EU mood in the governments of member nations and thus in the majority of the EU’s population, a complete reversal appears to have occurred. And not as a result of the enthusiastic efforts of pro-EU activists and politicians like Alexander van der Bellen or Emanuel Macron. Instead, it is all thanks to a very populist non-European President, a billionaire who is the polar opposite of the classic European politician. Donald Trump will not have much to crow about at the end of his term of office, but he will be credited with saving the European project.
How did representatives of the EU Commission recently put it?
“Populism can only be countered with facts and results. And that is what European politics has neglected to do over the past few months”. (Pierre Moscovici)
Mind you …
… it took Trump to bring about the prospect of China and Russia (BRICS?) becoming potential partners of the EU, despite any misgivings about their politics. The focus up until now on the USA as a stable and essential partner has been massively compromised by the rise of Trump.
The TTIP and the Paris Climate Change Accord – key agreements between the EU and the USA, as well as the G20 countries – have been revoked by Trump. Suddenly a new self-confidence is emerging, and not finding expression as hefty anti-US sentiment. Instead, the representatives of national EU governments and the EU Commission itself have become significantly surer of themselves as Europeans.
We should not forget that:
- the EU is the world’s biggest trading partner
- the euro is the most important global currency after the dollar and
- the EU has been the most successful peace project on the planet for the past 60 years.
What’s more, it is worth remembering that Europe makes US politics look rather dated. We have Emanuel Macron, Matteo Renzi, Christian Lindner, but also some influential women at the helm –none more so than Angela Merkel. On the North American continent, Justin Trudeau governs in a manner that reflects his European heritage and our values – with not just his liberal stance serving as the counter-pole to Trump’s Twitter politics. A single image of the two leaders says more than the proverbial thousand words ever could.
It is particularly striking that, by and large, the political forces in Europe that are guided by liberal principles and core values are increasingly gaining ground. Ideologies from the 19th century like Christian social doctrine and social democracy, as well as political movements of the 20th century like the Greens (now almost 40 years old), seem to have (in the meantime) achieved their mission. But liberalism is not just the necessary answer to the disruptive trends of our society and regulatory policy. It has also triggered renewed reflection and debate about the central values of Europe, which is now on the way to achieving a deeper level of integration: the rule of law, human and civil rights, the competitive market and a life of freedom and personal responsibility.
I maintain that without Trump it would not have come to this. Without Trump we would have had a President Hofer and a President Le Pen – perhaps even Geer Wilders in the Dutch Parliament.