On Thursday, July 22, IRI held an event on the margins of the Republican convention in Cleveland, OH, examining regional and global challenges to U.S.-EU relations in the context of the U.S. presidential elections.
The event, co-hosted with the Delegation of the European Union to the United States and the European Parliament Liaison Office to the U.S. Congress, focused on the importance of NATO and continued American engagement with Europe. Sam Clovis, a senior advisor to the Trump campaign, reaffirmed Donald Trump’s suggestion that NATO members would not receive unconditional support under a Trump administration. “All we’re asking is for everyone to do their part, to fulfill their budgetary commitment,” said Mr. Clovis. “But if you’re going to come to a gunfight make sure you bring a gun.”
Other panelists, including Ambassador of the European Union to the United States David O’Sullivan and Jan Zahradil, Member of the European Parliament for the Czech Republic, focused on the vital importance of a strong U.S.-led NATO. “NATO is imperative to global security and is at the core of the security policy of our member states,” said O’Sullivan. Similarly, Zahradil argued that NATO “…is the only real geopolitical tool for the U.S. to use in its global role towards Europe,” and emphasized the widespread support for NATO in Eastern Europe.
A second panel exploring the future of the global economy was dominated by discussions of the importance of free trade, and the challenges and opportunities for trade agreements in the aftermath of the U.K.’s exit from the European Union. O’Sullivan made the case for the EU as a valuable and consistent trading partner for the U.S., while pro-Brexit member of the European Parliament Andrew Lewer struck a more provocative note by suggesting the U.S. would secure a better trade deal by looking to the U.K. “The EU is increasingly turning against free trade, and trade deals with them take forever,” Lewer said. “I think a quick win is possible for the U.S. and U.K. on trade. It may not be as big as an EU deal, but it will actually happen fairly quickly,” he insisted.
IRI President Ambassador Mark Green made the case for the vital importance of a united front between the U.S. and Europe as a guarantor of global security. “We’re facing changes and challenges on a scale that we could not have foreseen a few years ago,” said Amb. Green. Citing the threats posed by violent extremism, the rise of far right and far left parties and revanchist Russia, Amb. Green expressed his belief that the U.S.-European relationship is “…at a crossroads, but I am confident that we will reemerge with a stronger, renewed relationship. If we continue to focus on our shared values, our children will believe that our future success was inevitable.”