In his latest interview with Radio Sputnik International, Srdja Trifkovic discusses President Donald Trump’s recent statement on CBS that the EU was formed to take advantage of the United States and that’s what it has been doing to this day. The first question was whether Trump’s assertion about the EU’s early days was accurate. [Audio]
ST: If you’re looking at the early days, [the European Union] started as the European Coal and Steel Community. Its primary purpose was to facilitate the movement of goods and services within the core of six original countries. This was done with the explicit blessing of the United States, of the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, back in the early 1950’s.
If we’re looking at the establishment of the European Union as it exists in its present form, specifically since the Lisbon Treaty was signed and when the current EU institutional framework was created, then there may be some truth to [President Trump’s statement]. In reality the EU has behaved over the past two decades like a trading block ready and willing to take advantage of the very open U.S. market, while inserting all sorts of subtle—or not so subtle—protectionist clauses into its own trading practices.
We need to bear in mind that very often European products have an in-built subsidy which is not directly visible. It is not like a subsidy that goes straight to the manufacturer or to the farmer! It goes via circuitous routes. Very often it’s hard to tell the percentage of built-in subsidies from Brussels which have found a way—for instance, through the French Ministry of Agriculture—but coming from European funds, and making French cheese more competitive than it otherwise would have been.
Q: In the summer the United States and the EU agreed to tone down the trade dispute, after a meeting in the White House between Jean-Claude Juncker and President Donald Trump; but what do you make of Trump’s latest comments about the EU hostility towards the U.S. and what message does this send out?
ST: First of all . . . when it comes to Jean-Claude Juncker, the question is whether he has had his morning libation before the meeting. Personal chemistry works better depending on M. Juncker’s level of inebriation. But seriously speaking . . . Trump has always had a certain Eurosceptic view well in line with his sovereignist principles. During the election campaign, he did make skeptical statements and he even received Nigel Farage of UKIP in Washington . . .
He believes that the European Union is effectively a globalist cabal in which deracinated elites, alienated from their own nations, are finding much more in common with each other then with their own people. I think that this is a perfectly justified assessment! If you look at the way Brussels is trying to treat, say, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic on the issue of migrant quotas—which of course those countries are rejecting—we see that the attempts by the European Union to play the arbiter of social and cultural norms has gotten out of hand. In that sense—Trump wouldn’t articulate the issue in quite the same terms—this is nevertheless his instinct; Trump went in the right direction . . .
For most leaders of the European Union, the U.S. election was the equivalent of a global catastrophe. For instance, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, could barely conceal her disdain and her shock. No doubt that Jean-Claude Junker and the rest of the Brussels nomenklatura would have been infinitely more comfortable with Hillary Clinton in the White House. At the same time, I think that when push comes to shove, there will be some give-and-take. With the European Union we’re not looking at a potential existential geopolitical foe of the United States—as we are in the case of China, where escalation of the trade war is accompanied by an escalation of geopolitical rivalry in the South China Sea and elsewhere.