Trump, ‘Brexit’: Uncertain future for Europe

[Previously published in Spanish in  La Rioja]

That morning, we woke up early with the news reporting that the next President of the United States would be Donald Trump. Some months earlier, Brexit was one of the first words we listened with disbelief very early in the morning too, and nobody could really imagine which consequences would this decision entails. That day, the former prime minister David Cameron only thought on a victory of his position in the referendum, i.e. the UK staying in the EU, following a negotiation with Brussels, which was, according to Cameron, “successful”. Many Brits relied on the “Bremain”… and the results are well known. Yesterday’s Cameron is today’s Hillary Clinton. As surveys put Hillary on the lead, many supporters of Bernie Sanders abstained and did not give their vote for her. Unexpectedly, however, Trump won, to their amazement.

We live immersed in a global movement tending to positions to radically change the current status. Today’s world thinks less on the future and on the consequences some political promises can entail, and more on protests, on votes against something and somebody, on reacting against power, against the establishment. Today’s world tends to a global citizenship, to international movements. Of course, nationalism’s revival is, without any doubt, a global movement, encouraged by populism, which is riskily making its way, paradoxically, in a moment that interdependence between States and regions in the world is stronger than ever before. The new nationalisms is the result of fear to new changes in our societies, to new international emerging powers, when we should taking them into account to precisely promote cooperation, freedom and more opportunities for citizens in a more global society.

If ‘Brexit’ represented an unprecedented attack to European unity and a nationalist reaction, Europe is not immune either to the possible consequences resulting of the next Trump Administration. We must take this situation in advantage to undertake the difficult task of achieving a greater cohesion in Europe sharing the pro-European message and to face the narrative of those that want to destroy Europe and belong to the extremes of the political spectrum. Those who supported ‘Brexit’ will see how UK’s voice in Europe will run out of voice and vote in the relevant decisions in Europe, how UK exports to the EU will be more expensive, and how rights and opportunities of British citizens will be significantly reduce in a space of more than 500 million. Especially damaged will be young people, who precisely showed mostly their support to stay in the European club.

Moreover, the president elect of the United States promoted protectionist policies during his political campaign. He questioned the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), moving away from the free market and stopping a trend to move regions closer through the liberalization of trade and services.

Will Trump reconsider, as he defended during the last months, the US commitment to NATO, Japan or South Korea?, will he accept the Chinese sphere of influence in the South China See?, will he stop defending Ukraine and other Eastern countries in Europe to face Russian threat?, will he reverse the nuclear agreement with Iran?, will he reject the Paris agreement of 2015 on clima? The fact that Trump will count on a Republican majority in the Congress does not guarantee he will be able to pass his big famous proposals he was strong campaigning for. Some of them will not be able to be passed as they are already on track, such as the famous wall he wanted to build along the Mexican border, as there is already a wall or fence along 1,050 kilometres. A wall which was started to be built by the Clinton administration.

Uncertainty of the next US administration and post-Brexit situation only gives Europe the opportunity to reinvent itself, to bet on making steps forward in the integration, to reaffirm the European values, to defend liberal democracy and open markets. To face the growing populism, the EU needs a new boost, a new leadership based on the four fundamental pillars: Germany, France, Spain and Italy. The EU must assume ore responsibility with the neighbouring countries and facing the conflicts affecting to the European security, instead of constantly relying on the US leadership, as usual during the last decades.

Summing up, ‘Brexit’ or Trump will not end the EU project. On the contrary, this should be a wake-up call for the EU to become the leader of the defence of liberties and fundamental rights. In the next months, there will be much more at stake that only the relations of Brussels with Washington or London. On the negotiations table there will be a debate on the future of Europe and on what the European Union wants really become.


About Rubén Ruiz Calleja

Alumnus of the College of Europe (Natolin) - Marie Skłodowska- Curie Promotion 2011-2012.
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