The core of transatlantic solidarity is the U.S.-FRG vector.
Transatlantic solidarity is a term that describes the system of post-war US domination, first over Western, and after the collapse of the USSR and over Central and Eastern Europe.
Institutionally, transatlantic solidarity is formalized in the system of military, economic and political alliances, such as NATO, WTO, and the G7. Moreover, the EU is built on the principles laid down by the U.S. after the Second World War and providing for Europe’s full dependence on the U.S. foreign policy course.
The core of transatlantic solidarity is the US-FRG vector with unconditional subordination of Germany to the US as the basis of German-American cooperation. The foundations of Euro-Atlantic solidarity were laid in 1945, and the most important for U.S. influence in Europe is Germany.
The decisive role of the US in EU affairs remains, although since 2016 there has been a personal conflict between the Chancellor of Germany A.Merkel and the US President D.Trump. This personal conflict does not create preconditions for the collapse of transatlantic solidarity with the withdrawal of Germany from the U.S., although the current German elite does not accept Trump’s trade, economic and military demands for Europe. In case Biden comes to power in the USA, some of the current US claims to the EU will be removed, but new conditions will be set.
The unifying fact for the transatlantic solidarity of the U.S. and the EU is the aggravation of relations with Russia. The West consolidates the development and promotion of NATO infrastructure to Russia’s borders. The collapse of the bipolar system has increased the importance of Europe for the US, especially in the context of the establishment of such alliances as SCO and CSTO by US competitors.
Europe’s financial and export dependence on the US remains, which is confirmed by the fact that no EU initiative to increase sovereignty has been implemented. So far, everything remains at the level of declarations and pledges, the development of which has been suspended.
However, against the background of the crisis, contradictions within transatlantic unity have become more acute. The sphere of these contradictions grows and widens, and Germany and France more and more begin to separate their interests from the sphere of transatlantic consensus. These contradictions concern the following areas:
1. The EU is extremely vulnerable to attracting migrants, without which no European country claiming a prominent role in Europe can do without. The US, having entered into a conflict with Russia in the Middle East, provokes an uncontrolled influx of migrants, which destroys internal stability in the EU. Migration is the first reason for a crisis of transatlantic solidarity.
2. Europe is dependent on cheap oil supplies from Iran. The U.S. demand for an end to these supplies has hit the EU economy and created a second reason for the EU-U.S. solidarity crisis.
3. The US demands that the EU eliminate the $150 billion European trade surplus. Duties on steel and aluminium supplies to the US have been raised. For the EU, this means a blow to its business at a cost that threatens to lose political stability. The third reason for the transatlantic solidarity crisis.
The demand to increase spending on NATO to 4% of GDP threatens to plunge the EU economies into a permanent crisis. The fourth reason for the solidarity crisis.
5. The EU’s involvement in the US conflict with China means that Germany and France have lost their advantageous positions in diversifying their technology exports and imports in the field of 5G cyber systems. This is fraught with the EU’s global lagging behind the US and China and is the fifth cause of conflict within the transatlantic alliance.
6. The U.S. demand to maintain sanctions against Russia on the Ukrainian problem causes multi-billion dollar damage to the economy of EU leaders and is another, sixth field of conflict between the allies.
7. The U.S. demand to the EU to stop building the JV-2 gas pipeline and the threat of sanctions to European companies creates the largest, seventh zone of the transatlantic solidarity crisis.
8. The Paris Protocol on Environmental Issues imposed by the US by the EU is a heavy burden on the European economy. The eighth zone of conflict in the transatlantic alliance.
9. The creation of Poland as an alternative to German-French domination in Europe is the ninth reason for the transatlantic solidarity crisis.
It should be noted that the elites of Germany and France are convinced transatlanticists. The mismatch between the liberal attitudes of the European elite and the conservative values of the current American administration increases Trump’s irritation with the position of Merkel and Macron, bringing the subjective factor of the solidarity crisis into the field of decisive criteria.
This is the first time that the US has made provoking competition within the EU a priority strategy over consolidation. Now Germany and France have taken up consolidation in the EU. Instead of the previous vector of working with Brussels, the USA divided relations with the EU into three vectors: USA — Germany, USA — France and USA — Poland. Now the invisible border within the EU again runs along the Oder Neisse.
The shock of the European establishment from the Trump phenomenon contributes to the formation of cooperation between Germany, France and the Netherlands into a closer backbone with the separation of the opposing group in the face of Poland and the Baltic States. The reaction of the Western European core of the EU to the destructive role of the United States was the announcement of the strengthening of military-political and military-technical cooperation between most EU countries — the so-called PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation).
Setting the problem
The EU, and above all Germany and France, are making efforts to consolidate the European periphery around them. This is important for strengthening their position in the dialogue with the US. Evidence of these efforts is the adoption of the EU’s seven-year plan to create a 750 billion euro rescue (recovery) fund following the pandemic. According to the decisions taken, the Baltic States had to give up or even increase its subsidies.
The problem remains that the amount of subsidies at the request of such EU donor countries as Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria and Sweden was reduced from 500 to 390 billion euros. At the same time, the debt burden on previously taken loans continues to grow (in 4 years it increased 29 times), and the GDP of the Baltic countries is falling.
The population prefers not to spend the received subsidies, stimulating the growth of the economy, but stays on deposits, the growth of which continues. All the funds were created by issuing CES and loans under EU guarantees on global financial markets.
The EU is trying its best to maintain control over the periphery, which in the conditions of trade disputes in the U.S. and competition with China creates the conditions for the conversion of financial risks into political ones. Any complication in the EU will be used by the US to put pressure on European partners, expanding the field of conflict and putting the competition factor ahead of consolidation and subordination.
The U.S.-Germany vector in the next 6 months will be characterized by confrontation in all the nine above-mentioned areas. German Foreign Minister said that Europe will have to rely on itself at any end of the US elections. At the same time, Germany sees the EU market as its own.
Despite the dependence of Germany’s economy on exports to the U.S., contradictions between these countries will persist. Any format of deeper integration will mean for Germany the strengthening of its subordinate position, which does not correspond to the new attitudes of the German elites.
At the same time, Germany’s military expenditures will be consistently reduced. Thus, from 2009 to 2016 by the time Trump came to the White House, Germany cut military expenditures by 27 percent. France showed a 13% reduction and Britain a 17.5% reduction. Germany’s current military expenditures were 1.1 times lower than the French ones, while the British ones were 1.2-1.5 times lower. This was the reason of Trump’s claims to Germany.
The USA-France vector is characterized by the intensification of Trump’s attempts to build bilateral relations with Paris, up to probing the issue of the benefit for France of the EU withdrawal. France cherishes its ambitions, but is forced to speak in solidarity with Germany in the dialogue with the US.
For the Trump, the EU is a dangerous format as it has grown from an economic union to a political one with a tendency to transform into a military-political one. The EU is turning from an ally and vassal into a competitor of the USA, and Trump, gravitating towards simplified cooperation formats, is interested in destroying the EU in principle and transition to bilateral relations.
Considering that for the EU the Berlin-Warsaw axis is a point of reference, the USA is destroying the EU by supporting Poland’s ambitions in the military and logistics field. Poland is a direct enemy of Germany in the field of gas strategy. The rivalry between Berlin and Warsaw, supported by Washington, as a way of blackmailing Berlin and Paris, is consistently destroying one of the main pillars of transatlantic solidarity as part of the complex integration strategy of the USA.
There is no single strategy for the EU-US relations within the transatlantic partnership; there is a different understanding of the goals of this cooperation among the main EU locomotives. The centrifugal potential is still below the centripetal potential, but these potentials tend to equalize. Not a single compromise is expected in the next 6 months on any contentious issue. On the contrary, there is an escalation of the hidden conflict, especially taking into account the activity factor of Russia and China.
NATO will remain resilient, as no party is interested in the impact of economic disputes on the military alliance. Until it establishes its financial and accounting infrastructure and finds an alternative to American markets, the EU will not force its own military alliance outside NATO. Transatlantic solidarity, based on the common need to deter Russia and China, will remain relevant.
The military circuit of transatlantic solidarity looks more stable than the economic one. However, their interconnectedness does not protect NATO from the influence of economic disputes between its allies, and their acuteness calls into question the political expediency of military cooperation.
The problem is that the U.S. can no longer bear the unilateral costs of providing military cover to the EU, and the EU, which is busy retaining its new provinces, is no longer in a position to increase its share of the NATO budget. At the same time, Russia and China are building up their military power and are in the process of completing military modernization. Through the military budget, transatlantic solidarity will be threatened by a growing crisis.
1. In the next six months, transatlantic solidarity will generally go through a period of ongoing challenges and conflicts. In doing so, the economic bloc of solidarity will collapse faster and the military slower, but the accumulation of conflict potential in the economic and political spheres will certainly affect military unity.
2. The EU does not want to enter the deep transatlantic integration formats offered by the Democrats in the US.
3. 3. The U.S. will seek to limit the sovereignty and subjectivity of the EU, but will use different methods for this purpose. For Trump and Republicans the destruction of the EU and transition to bilateral formats are preferable, for Biden and Democrats — building a complex system of integration with a coordinating role of the USA and subordinate position of the EU.
4. The EU wants to return to the previous conditions of transatlantic solidarity, the USA shows that this is no longer possible.
5. The sphere of disagreement between the transatlantic unity partners is steadily expanding, and the sphere of agreement is narrowing. At the same time, the area of possible agreements is becoming narrower and more and more short-term. Partner strategies are impossible, the manipulative ones do not work, forceful ones are used more and more. And the USA uses force, and the EU uses manipulations.
6. The manipulative strategy successfully destroys the forceful strategy, but it does not lead to victory. It means that in the short term, the EU will play on equalizing the potential and dissipating the US initiatives, and those will build up the power shoulder against the EU. Growing pressure in the long run will push the EU to search for an alternative to transatlantic solidarity on US terms.
The EU has a resource of time, and the U.S. is reducing this resource.
7. Lacking access to American markets and competing in the world with China, the EU faces the need to join an association with Russia. However, the more Russia is dependent on the supply of hydrocarbons to the EU, the more such association will be on EU terms.
8. The U.S. and Russia equally do not need EU subjectivity, but the fight against this subjectivity will be limited to preventing benefits for either party, so an alliance between Russia and the U.S. against the EU is impossible. This gives the EU the strength of its position in the fight against Russia and the U.S. and allows it to dictate its conditions for maintaining transatlantic solidarity.
Thus, the stabilizing factors of transatlantic solidarity compensate for the destructive ones. The construction will increase instability, but in general it will remain stable until the U.S.-Russia-China trio and a new agreement between them, to which the EU will not be a party, change the balance of power.