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US Vice-President Mike Pence (L) meets with European Council head Donald Tusk at the European Commission in Brussels on February 20, 2017. The European Union counts on getting the same complete support from the Trump adminstration as from its predecessors, European Council head Donald Tusk said on February 20. / AFP / THIERRY CHARLIER (Photo credit should read THIERRY CHARLIER/AFP/Getty Images)

#FactOfTheDay: The future of EU-U.S. relations – Did Pence bring the wind of change?

Today the American Vice-President Mike Pence was in Brussels for holding talks with EU officials. His visit follows contrastive and confusional signals coming from USA since the election of Trump as a president. The new approach to foreign policy, introduced by Trump provoked anxiety, uncertainty, concern and anger in Europe. After statements on NATO as “obsolete”, on EU as “basically a vehicle for Germany”, after endorsing Brexit and his apparently sympathy for Russia’s leader, US president moved far from being a friend for Europeans.

VP Pence today brought Trump message of partnership with EU High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini before meeting the heads of EU Council. The purpose of his visit was reassuring the European Union that US new administration will continue in the maintenance of a very good cooperation with EU.

« Today is my privilege on behalf of President Trump to express the strong commitment of the United States to continue cooperation and partnership with the European Union, » he said.
« Whatever our differences, our two continents share the same heritage, the same values and above all, the same purpose to promote peace and prosperity through freedom, democracy and the rule of law. And to those objectives we will remain committed.”

According to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council the meeting was positive as Pence affirmed US commitment in supporting three crucial issues – the importance of the international order based on international law, security based on NATO and the idea of united Europe.

On the first stage of his European tour, the American Vice-President Mike Pence attended the Munich Security Conference on Saturday 18 February. In his intervention bringing President Trump’s greeting he tried to reassure the European allies about the US commitment in the Northern Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

« Today, on behalf of President Trump, I bring you this assurance: the United States of America strongly supports NATO and will be unwavering in our commitment to this transatlantic alliance,” Pence underlined.

Though, leaving out any doubt about US support and commitment on transatlantic alliance, he stressed the Trump’s promise that US and Europe are bound together as they share the same values such as freedom, democracy, justice and the rule of law.
We will always be your biggest ally”, Mr Pence said.
Invoking again Trump’s name Pence continued in his intervention in stressing the importance of further engagement on the Alliance from the European countries. It is self-evident that only four European allies are fulfilling their duties toward NATO. On regards to economic contribution on NATO Pence explained that President Trump expects that each member fulfils its own part in making this alliance doing great.

Reassured or confused?
Despite the fact that the Pence intervention seeking to reassure allies about US commitment, it left unclear points and a certain confusion. All the contradictory signals that Trump gave raised the level of worry and concern among Europeans that are hard to be erased by a “reassuring” speech of Vice – President.
In his intervention Pence mentioned NATO and European allies but never addressed the European Union. This, of course, brings further perplexity among EU leaders and officials among the audience and outside.
According to the US – Russia relations, Pence told the audience that they are trying to find a common position but didn’t give further clarifications.
Many things remained unclear as what German Chancellor Merkel made reference to in her intervention – the US’s increasingly isolationism.
« Will we be able to continue working well together, or will we all fall back into our individual roles? » Mrs Merkel asked. « I call on us, and I hope we will find a common position on this, let’s make the world better together and then things will get better for every single one of us. »
Though, on the one hand promising to stay “with Europe today and every day” and on the other one warning it that lack of spending « erodes the very foundation of our alliance”, US VP intervention moves from being a reassurance to an ultimatum.

                                                                   Zana Çanaku

To find out more:
Awkward first date in Munich
A Worried Europe Finds Scant Reassurance on Trump’s Plans
US Vice President Mike Pence vows Trump committed to EU
Mike Pence seeks to allay European fears on trip to Brussels
Pence met with open skepticism in Brussels

Adeline Silva Pereira

Après avoir effectué la deuxième année du master Sécurité Globale analyste politique trilingue à l'Université de Bordeaux, j'effectue un stage au sein d'EU Logos afin de pouvoir mettre en pratique mes compétences d'analyste concernant l'actualité européenne sur la défense, la sécurité et plus largement la coopération judiciaire et policière.

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