While America's so-called "establishment", the legacy political system and mainstream media, appear to be melting, and transforming before our eyes into something that has yet to be determined, Europe also appears to be disintegrating in response to the Trump presidential victory: as the FT reports, in a stunning development, Britain and France on Sunday night snubbed a contentious EU emergency meeting to align the bloc’s approach to Donald Trump’s election, exposing rifts in Europe over the US vote.
Hailed by diplomats as a chance to “send a signal of what the EU expects” from Mr Trump, the plan fell into disarray after foreign ministers from the bloc’s two main military powers declined to attend the gathering demanded by Berlin and Brussels.
The meeting, which comes as Trump appointed his key deputies - chosing the more moderate establishment figure, RNC chairman Reince Priebus, to be his chief-of-staff over campaign chairman Stephen Bannon, who becomes chief strategist and counsellor - was supposed to create a framework for Europe in how to deal with a "Trump threat" as Europe itself faces an uphill climb of contenuous, potentially game-changing elections over the coming few months as we described last week in "European Politicians Terrified By "Horror Scenario" After Brexit, Trump."
Instead The split in Europe highlights the difficulties "European capitals face in coordinating a response to Mr Trump, who has questioned the US’s commitments to Nato and free trade and hinted at seeking a rapprochement with Russian president Vladimir Putin" much to the amusement of famous euroskeptic Nigel Farage who was the first foreign political leader to meet with Donald Trump at the Trump Tower over the weekend.
Trump's move infuriated members of Europe's fraying core, with Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister, tweeting: “If Trump wanted to look statesmanlike to Europe, receiving Farage was probably the worst thing he could [do].”
As the FT adds, British foreign secretary Boris Johnson dropped out of the Brussels meeting, with officials arguing that it created an air of panic, while French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault opted to stay in Paris to meet the new UN secretary-general. Hungary’s foreign minister boycotted the meeting, labeling the response from some EU leaders as “hysterical”.
Johnson’s refusal to attend will add to an already difficult relationship with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who has told colleagues that he cannot bear to be in the same room as the British foreign secretary.
In short: total chaos.
Ironically, the German foreign minister had wanted to demonstrate that the EU was capable of rapid response when it came to foreign policy. Instead the disarray highlighted a familiar problem for Berlin, according to diplomats. “When the EU’s most powerful country wants to lead, other member states don’t necessarily follow,” said one EU diplomat. But the German foreign ministry put a brave face on events, saying on Sunday: “It’s good that the EU meets … to look into the consequences of the election of Donald Trump for Europe.”
A combination of Trump’s election and Britain’s vote to leave the EU had triggered calls for a total overhaul of the EU’s foreign and defense policy, with Berlin and Paris demanding greater integration. “If the US disengages from Europe, we need to look after our own security,” said one EU diplomat. Those ministers who do attend the meeting, will discuss plans such as bolstering the EU’s ambition to mount joint operations during a scheduled meeting on Monday, which Mr Johnson and Mr Ayrault will attend.
Elsewhere, as reported yesterday, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned both the US and its European partners against “going it alone” on defence matters. Paris and Berlin had been co-ordinating their response to Mr Trump’s election, while London has jockeyed to maintain its position as the US’s main European ally. The French president and German chancellor spoke before releasing two separate, guarded welcomes to the president-elect last week.
Meanwhile, other European leaders have openly criticized the incoming president. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker last week accused Mr Trump of ignorance. “We must teach the president-elect what Europe is and how it works. I believe we’ll have two years of wasted time while Mr Trump tours a world he doesn’t know.”
But the most concerned of all will likely be Italy's PM Matteo Renzi, who as explained on various occasions, and as Bloomberg writes, is "Next in the Crosshairs for Anti-Establishment Wave."
Of course, with the US finding itself in a state of post-presidential election shock, it is only reasonable that Europe's own establishment forces are next, and this time the impact will be far closer to the core, slamming first Italy, then France, the Netherlands, and ultimately - perhaps - Germany itself.