European Union

Europe vs. Trump

European parliamentary leaders want rebuke of nomination they believe Trump will make for ambassador to the EU

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Gianni Pittella/European Parliament

President Donald Trump's potential choice to represent the United States to the European Union said the president wouldn't "cow to the powers that be." In a radio interview in the United Kingdom, Ted Malloch, who European media report is likely to be Trump's choice, said the president's "heart was in his mouth" and in a reference to Coriolanus that he was "too noble for this world."

"He'll speak his mind even if gets in trouble or held in disregard by others," Malloch, an American economist who runs a government relations consultancy and is currently teaching in England, said of Trump. "It used to be called honesty but in the age of baby talk and political correctness, and mostly bullshit, it's now regarded as dishonesty."

Some European leaders have been pushing for a firm response from the EU to the possibility of a Malloch appointment, even before the latest interview. The leaders of two groups in Parliament, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and the People's Party, sent a letter to the presidents of the European Commission and the European Council urging them to reject any request for diplomatic credentials for Malloch, calling him "outrageous malevolence" against EU values, Politico reports. The leader of the Socialists and Democrats group in European Parliament, Gianni Pittella, also argued against Malloch in a speech in parliament, and told Politico that the person the Trump administration has not yet indicated it would choose was "not welcome here."

In a previous interview, Malloch compared the European Union to the Soviet Union, and said he'd like to help dismantle the former as he says he did the latter, according to Politico, and also said the European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, was a "very adequate mayor, I think, of some city in Luxembourg and maybe he should go back and do that again."

Trump has not yet made an appointment and the United States mission to the EU is being run by the former deputy. EU credentials are needed for access to certain institutions as well as tax exemptions and other privileges. Trump could theoretically choose only to name ambassadors to the individual member-states of the EU, and a new EU ambassador is not expected to take office until at least June even if the process is smooth.

On his way out, Anthony Gardner, the last U.S. ambassador, Politico reported, told media the Trump administration shouldn't listen to advice from "fringe voices" like UKIP's Nigel Farage, who has been advising Trump, and pushing the idea that Brexit, which he championed, translated to support for his party's brand of nativism, despite support for Brexit coming from a much broader political spectrum. For comparison, UKIP has just one seat in the House of Commons. On the other hand, the anti-EU party received nearly 28 percent of the British vote, and 24 seats, in the European Parliament in the most recent elections. Voters are weary of ever larger and more bureaucratic institutions governing ever greater portions of their lives, and the failure to adequately acknowledge this by more mainstream parties has helped cede the ground to more "fringe" elements.

Gardner insisted he would remain a sort of "shadow ambassador" to promote the EU, saying that half a century of American support for European integration has been "not only good for Europe, it has been good for the United States—for political, economic, and security reasons."

The European integration project has been about eliminating interior barriers to the free movement of people, goods, capital, and services, but also about greater centralization and a larger bureaucracy. Support for these two goals is no more a natural partner than opposition, yet the broken mainstream politics on both sides of the Atlantic have managed to push just such a narrative, to varying success. It's a dangerous byproduct of the kind of populist rhetoric both Democrats and Republicans in the U.S., for example, have been deploying for years. Populist anger and cults of personality have had corrosive effects on the health of the kind of freedom-oriented policies that have made the last half century witness to the greatest worldwide increase in the quality of life in human history. Globalization did that—the increased freedom enjoyed by the people and markets of the world, not the bureaucrats and centralizers who have attached themselves to those processes and now claim they are an indispensable element of it and in fact must manage, micro-manage and otherwise tinker with it. It presents a two-fold threat to free people and free markets—first by directing legitimate anger about the results of bureaucratic meddling and centralization on the processes of freeing and decentralization, and second by insisting they must reverse and slow these processes in order to protect their beneficiaries, the people, from them. It's a tragedy of the era.

Trump, for his part, recently announced he would be attending the NATO summit in Brussels in May, During the campaign, he was a critic of the North Atlantic alliance, often complaining that the U.S. paid too much into the alliance. Since his election, the administration has signaled its support for the alliance—German Chanellor Angela Merkel said she was encouraged by such signals but that work remained on defending free trade.

An editorial in Der Spiegel, meanwhile, urged Germany and Europe to "prepare their political and economic defenses" in a column comparing Trump to Nero. Klaus Brinkbaumer, but he was engaged in histrionics not policy solutions, did not include military defenses. Instead he complained about the U.S. attitude toward its security arrangements. "The fact that the United States, a nuclear superpower that has dominated the world economically, militarily and culturally for decades, is now presenting itself as the victim," Brinkbaumer wrote, "calling in all seriousness for 'America first' and trying to force the rest of the world into humiliating concessions is absurd."

Yet were Europe to take its security, and energy, independence seriously, it would find itself in a position where the politics and actions of the United States and Russia, the other major player influencing the debate within the European Union about their project, would matter less and less. U.S.-European tensions, such as they are, are driven largely by post-World War II security commitments that now enjoy far more support among American political leaders than the American population. Similarly, many of the arguments with Russia stem from Europe's reliance on Russian energy sources. Solutions to both problems are within reach—the U.S. has a president more open to redeploying out of Europe in favor of Europe defending itself, while Europe's energy independence has technological solutions like nuclear power that are thwarted by domestic politics. Focusing on these problems, rather than on what a Trump administration may or may not do for Europe, would be a far more effective strategy. Reducing America's security commitments could also help turn the tide of public opinion away from protectionism and toward freer trade, untethering as it would the concept of free trade from the practice of American meddling around the world. Seeking to further co-opt free trade and movement and its benefits as products of increasingly centralized bureaucracies actually interested in micro-managing those freedoms is at least as much a danger to the accomplishments of freedom in the 20th century as Trump.

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  1. Europeans don’t want to credential our ambassador? Fine. Let’s simply not appoint a replacement. Redesignate his staff as “at large” for the local EU governments. I can guarantee that, after a month of the U.S. not deeming Brussels as worthy of our representation, they’ll be begging Malloch to take office.

  2. By the way,

    . Globalization did that?the increased freedom enjoyed by the people and markets of the world, not the bureaucrats and centralizers who have attached themselves to those processes and now claim they are an indispensable element of it and in fact must manage, micro-manage and otherwise tinker with it.

    Excellent observation.

  3. I didn’t even know we had an EU ambassador.

    1. Me neither. I would love to see this:

      Trump could theoretically choose only to name ambassadors to the individual member-states of the EU

      WTF are we doing supporting their play-government anyway?

  4. Isn’t it horrible that European governments are interfering with American democracy?

  5. For comparison, UKIP has just 2 seat in British Parliament. On the other hand, the anti-EU party received nearly 28 percent of the British vote, and 24 seats, in the European Parliament in the most recent elections.

    They only have 1 in the UK Parliament, because their support is broad, rather than deep. They were the third party by number of votes, but all those 2nd and 3rd places don’t count.
    They were also #1 by votes in last Euro elections, hence the 24 seats (proportional rather than FPTP system).

    UKIP is really a sad case, they started out as an unpopular Thatcherite party and have now found success as a home for disappointed Old Labor and Blue Tory voters. With Farage no longer leading it, and their leadership contest being a complete shitshow, it’s probably gonna get worse.

    1. Are you implying that it is not the the UKIP Moment?

      1. Oh, it was the UKIP Moment, but it’s over.
        Unlike LP, UKIP did get 12.6% of the overall vote and the Brexit only happened because of their pressure. Then they decided what was really needed was to step on their dicks and collapse into utter clownery.

        1. It gives the impression that UKIP was generally being held together by the will of Farage, who seems to have failed his party by not grooming a competent prot?g? before leaving. On the other hand, they basically got what they wanted (Brexit – the independence of their name), so perhaps the wiser move than continuing as a party would have been to declare victory and close up shop.

  6. I think its hilarious the way EU pols pearl-clutch about American political trends, all while the citizens in their own countries are busy erecting guillotines with their names on them. Many of these same people are at the very least going to be out of power in the next 18 months.

    Ed also nails it here =

    were Europe to take its security, and energy, independence seriously, it would find itself in a position where the politics and actions of the United States and Russia, the other major player influencing the debate within the European Union about their project, would matter less and less.

    I think this is a great point but for the “energy independence” thing. As he knows, the entire problem vs. Russia has partly to do with European reliance on Russian natural gas

    While the whole of the EU imported 53.4 percent of its energy consumption in 2014, Germany’s dependency was even higher with an import share of 61.4 percent…

    They’re never going to be “independent”, and things like the Energiewende etc. just makes things worse, preventing the development of at least more nuclear capacity.

    I think Europe suddenly discovering itself without Sugar Daddy USA to bankroll its Natl Security, and as a diplomatic crutch to defend its interests, will be an interesting thing to watch.

    1. “I think Europe suddenly discovering itself without Sugar Daddy USA to bankroll its Natl Security, and as a diplomatic crutch to defend its interests, will be an interesting thing to watch.”

      Money being fungible, I am tired of paying for crummy medical care for the Brits and long vacations for the Euros.
      Next time they need to hitch a ride on the US transports to fight some African disturbance, it’s ass, grass or cash; no one rides for free.

      1. +1 Ratt

    2. It’s my understanding it’s possible for Europe to be energy independent if they embraced nuclear power as one of their energy sources.

      1. From Wikipedia

        European uranium mining supplied just below 3% of the total EU needs, coming from the Czech Republic and Romania (a total of 526 tU). Production in the Ro?n? mine was to be terminated in 2008, but the Czech government decided in May 2007 to continue mining and extended the lifetime without time limit as long as it remains profitable.[9]

        So no, whether they have to import uranium, oil or gas, they won’t be “independent”. Yes, there are some sources internal to EU they could tap, but they would also have a vastly higher demand than today.

      2. if they embraced nuclear power as one of their energy sources.

        Most transportation still relies on oil, and that aint changing anytime soon, and its still used for home heating in many places

        and my point was basically that – given the pro-Energiewende sort of attitudes across the continent, the trend is already going in the opposite direction there.

        the concept of energy-independence is itself a canard. Diversity of the energy marketplace makes it more robust. i get that there needs to be a reduction of reliance on russia, but “total independence” is never going to happen.

        I think you made a very good point above, just that the term “independence” – which suggests that a total hermetic self-reliance is possible – is probably wrong; i think ‘reduced dependence’ probably makes more sense. but its mostly just niggling.

    3. I think its hilarious the way EU pols pearl-clutch about American political trends, all while the citizens in their own countries are busy erecting guillotines with their names on them

      Ah, but unlike the US, they are quite comfortable knowing that none of those people will ever sniff power. The existing parties will contort in almost Crusty-like ways to keep them out and the same system going as before.
      Wilders in Netherlands will probably “win”, as in have the most votes of any party. But he’s not going to be in the government.

      And even better for EU pols specifically, there’s nothing citizenry can do about them. Executive is not elected by EU parliament, it’s merely approved, and all the seats belong to parties, not people holding them, so it’s not like there are politicians you can target for removal.

    4. Ah so is this how Germany claims to have “produced” X percent of renewable energy? Just ignore all the imports

      We have a 100% clean energy climate based on what we produce! (just ignore 100% of electricity is imported!)

  7. “?said the European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, was a “very adequate mayor, I think, of some city in Luxembourg and maybe he should go back and do that again.”

    Very diplomatic; he could have claimed the guy was more suited to Dog Catcher

  8. Bunch of bitchy children wanting the U.S. to protect them and their oil and gas supplies and give nothing in return. Time to pull all the troops from Europe . [ and Asia and the middle east and Africa,ect. ]

  9. So which one is the Peoples Front of Europe?

  10. Hey, who got the Court of St. James?

  11. Donald Trump’s problem is that he’s too honest and noble for this world. You’ve got to be out of your mind to believe something like this.

  12. Wasn’t Bolton gunning for a job. Give him that one. They deserve him.

    1. But how could he be a guest on Kennedy then?

  13. Europe (and Canada) benefited a lot from American taxpayers – mostly through The Cold War arrangements where America did all the heavy lifting militarily and financially.

    And then they have the gall to turn around and bash Americans for not have lavish and luxurious welfare perks.

  14. I get the impression that the Europeans haven’t quite come to grips with the fact that they no longer represent major powers that can shape the world political landscape to their liking. One can only dictate terms from a position of strength.

    1. ^This. Ever since Iraq War II when France and Co. balked and the US said, “OK we’ll go in with 98% of what we were hoping to go in with”, they should have realized how impotent they were. When your boycott means jack squat, you don’t have much stroke.

  15. I support free market but the EU seems like it has become nothing of the sort –> just top down central planning with some free movement around

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