EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy

  • The Trump administration has not been characterized as thoughtful or respectful; however, the arrival of the new Secretary of State Mark Pompeo has elevated its volatility.
  • Whereas his predecessor presented moderate versions of Trump’s policy plans, Pompeo is Trump’s equal in brusqueness.

The United States’ new head diplomat seems to lack diplomatic skills.

As soon as Secretary Pompeo began his job, the US announced its plans to pull out of the Iranian peace accord and to now pursue full economic sanctions against Iran. However, the EU also played a pivotal role in the drafting of this accord. EU leaders want to hold to their ends of the agreement.

The Iranian peace accord was a landmark agreement for the International community. Citing alliances, Pompeo made clear that the expectation is that the EU will comply with the US decision, and cease business dealings with Iran. In reaction, EU leaders are in the process of implementing safeguards that will protect its economic interests in Iran. With a new bulldog in place in Washington, it seems that it is up to the EU to salvage the security of this monumental accord.

Though it is frustrating that the United States has yet again resorted to bullish behaviour, it is important to weigh the costs of Iranian and American economic interaction. The EU stands to lose more if they are subsequently punished as a result of failing to support the United States. This accord does propagate international peace and should thus be upheld to the best of the EU’s ability. However, in the event that continued interaction with Iran could harm the EU’s economy, these nation’s leaders should apply restraint. In the end, business interests may encourage the EU’s compliance with the US’ decision, due to the fact that the US market is larger and more impactful than the Iranian market.

For the good of EU countries, Transatlantic relationships must be protected. Though President Trump has oscillated between praise and criticism of NATO, Secretary Pompeo seems to recognize the organization’s importance.

This is promising. However, this administration is not known for its Stability. Unfortunately, with the Trump administration we have seen that nothing is guaranteed, not even to loyal allies. This instance is yet another reminder that the EU should strive for greater military capability. As “the other Donald”, European Council President Donald Tusk, mentioned: with friends like these, who needs enemies?

Once an argument to alleviate the United States’ burden in NATO, this emphasis on EU security should now be seen as a safeguard against a volatile United States. The Common Security and Defense policy has put such action into motion. It has been enhanced by the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). Though the EU now has formal military assistance and interaction, it is still a long way from achieving military and defensive independence from the United States. EU leaders and citizens should throw their support behind these projects and the possibilities that they provide.

By increasing the effectiveness of PESCO, EU leaders can hope to have a strong growth of capabilities as a whole. It is important that European leaders emphasise integration over defence sovereignty in this regard. Defence research, production, and operation are crucial during this time, and stand to benefit from cooperation and integration.

It is worth noting that due to economic variance between EU member states, PESCO should remain inclusive, but should also be ambitious. Doing so will help to increase the status of the EU within NATO, showing the current United States leadership the value of this partnership. It is especially important, now more than ever, to strengthen EU security to ensure that the next radical decision by Washington will not send members scrambling to recover.

In light of Secretary Pompeo’s appointment to office, the EU strive to strengthen the stability of the NATO partnership, but also give themselves a sense of greater security and autonomy due to the somewhat oppressive nature of this alliance as of late.

Though this time of madness will not prevail, it is important to remain strong during this turbulent time. Attempting to elevate the American view of the EU within NATO can strengthen these bonds.

The continuation of strong Transatlantic relations is of upmost importance, and the US action on the Iran deal is another reminder that the United States can be volatile and unpredictable.

Rachel Warren

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