The Economist by unknow

The Economist by unknow

Language: eng
Format: mobi
Tags: 新闻, The Economist
Publisher: calibre
Published: 2017-05-26T01:38:46.906000+00:00


How Trump, Putin and Erdogan unsettle the EU

Liberal values and the rule of law meet capricious populism

May 25th 2017

THE mood is brighter in Europe these days. It has not, admittedly, taken much to lift the spirits: reckless extremists came second, not first, in elections in Austria, the Netherlands and France; economic growth has accelerated beyond a snail’s pace; and Brexit, though probably disastrous for Britain, may not be catastrophic for Europe. Still, even the return of normality is a relief for a continent that has spent the past few years battling crises.

But if Europeans have at last started to feel better about themselves, the world outside looks ever-more menacing. The cherished European values of liberalism and respect for human rights are being challenged by a cohort of unpredictable leaders who seem not to prize or understand them. This is unsettling for the European Union, a slow-moving club founded on reverence for the rule of law. For Europeans the shift is embodied in three presidents whose capricious impulses are shaping and constraining their foreign policy: Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Take Mr Trump first. Europeans’ fears about the American president have partly eased since he took office. Mr Trump used to enjoy egging on anti-EU politicians like Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen. However, after meeting various European leaders, he has largely stopped doing so. In February Mike Pence, the vice-president, reassured Eurocrats that America was not bent on destroying the EU. European officials, after visits to Washington, express optimism that some of Mr Trump’s more outlandish courtiers, such as Peter Navarro, a trade adviser who thinks America’s deficits threaten its security, have lost the president’s ear.

But Europeans are far from comfortable. “We have no idea where [the Americans] are on so many issues,” says a diplomat in Brussels, where Mr Trump was arriving for an EU meeting and NATO summit as The Economist went to press. That meeting was to be followed by a two-day summit of the G7 in Sicily. In the run-up to these encounters the Europeans hunted for clarity on America’s intentions, especially on climate and trade. During the campaign, Mr Trump vowed to withdraw from the Paris climate accord; he has neither reaffirmed nor revoked that pledge. (Alert to his “America first” approach to diplomacy, the Europeans have drawn up lists of American jobs that depend on clean energy.) The Americans have been reluctant to sign up to boilerplate language, in the G7 communiqué, on the importance of global trade.

If Mr Trump provokes questions for Europeans, Mr Putin challenges their assumptions. His Crimean land grab upset the post-cold war order, and his troops wreak havoc in Ukraine’s east. Weakness may limit the scale of what Mr Putin can accomplish. But Russia’s ongoing decline gives him a reason to act now rather than wait to disrupt pro-European reforms in countries that he sees as within his sphere of influence (although, happily, the EU has at last granted Ukrainians the right to visa-free travel). Inside the EU Mr Putin and his proxies meddle in elections and sponsor rabble-rousing parties and fake NGOs.


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