Trump’s presidency and its implications for the European Union’s foreign policy

In the past days we are coming to terms with the fact that in the next 4 years we will have to deal with the Trump administration leading the most powerful country in the world, “the leader of the free world” would be a controversial person like Donald Trump. The two articles on this blog written by Luís[1] and Tjeerd[2] highlighted the failure of the Democratic Party and the Establishment to present a credible alternative or deliberately undermining one (yes, I am talking about Bernie). But after going through the five stages of grief with denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance it is time to look into the future and deal with the situation as it is. Some would even say there is a silver lining to this orange cloud. For the EU, the socialists and progressives in Europe and the US there are some important takeaways that we have to take into consideration.

EU Foreign Policy

Many articles[3] have been written about the upcoming foreign policy crisis[4] based on Trumps earlier comments about disrespect of international humanitarian law (bringing back waterboarding, targeting the families of terrorists, bombing the sh*t out of ISIS), of international treaty commitments (scrapping the Paris Agreement on climate change, undermining NAFTA and preventing other future free-trade agreements, not committing to NATO Article 5 aka unconditionally help out an ally when it is attacked) and his support for nuclear proliferation (encouraging South-Korea and Japan to attain nuclear weapons). These are indeed worrying sings also underlined by the reaction from international leaders especially from France and Germany. Both Steinmeier and Hollande, representing the “classic” EU tandem, congratulated Trump upon his elections, whit serious reservations and warnings that they intend to base their cooperation on their liberal principles, and warned by the comments made by Trump.[5]
Cartoon by Adams

On the wake of such challenge it is crucial for the European Union its member states to reflect to the situation and prepare accordingly. Guy Verhofstadt, president of ALDE summarized it perfectly the other day: “The only silver lining of a Trump presidency: it’s a wake-up call for Europe to unite and take charge of its own destiny. For too long, we have relied on the United States, for example for our external security and foreign policy. Donald Trump declared he will unite his country. I hope that, after all the division and hatred he preached, he will represent all Americans. But Europe should get its act together as well and set its differences aside. We need our own defence capability and create other capacities, like a European intelligence agency, to keep us safe and prosperous.[6] As he says it is an opportunity to the current European leadership to stick together and take the initiative. With the current leadership, especially with High Representative Federica Mogherini leading the European External Action Service, there is capability and experience all we need is the political will to execute the required policies.


The other argument that many raised, including Luís, is the surge of right-wing, anti-establishment forces (Hungary, Poland, Brexit, and now Trump) and their implication for the upcoming elections in other countries, such as France or the Netherland, saying “with Trump’s election it can mean Le Pen as the next French President, Geert Wilders in Netherlands and so on.”[7] The current political elites are either ignoring the frustration of the middle and lower classes, as Tjeerd also highlighted, or as Trump and other populist do, they are using this frustration through fear tactics by spread hate, blame and instilling insecurity to gain political power.

This is why I also agree with the others that it is the Left’s, the socialists and the progressives responsibility to act and to give the real alternative for the disenchanted people. Slavoj Žižek didn’t saw Clinton as an electable candidate and hoped for the fact, that in case of the Trump win – which eventually happened – it will give the chance for the Democrats and the progressives to “go back to basics and reinvent themselves”.[8] Jeremy Corbyn also said that “Trump’s election is our latest global wake up call. We need a real alternative to a failed political and economic system.[9] This forces the real Progressives in the Democratic Party in the US to step forward and build themselves up for the next elections in 2018. The work has already started thanks to Bernie Sanders and Elisabeth Warren: by creating the “Brand New Congress”[10] and “Our Revolution”[11] political initiatives, with the aim to keep the progressive momentum started in the election campaign and build up the next generation of real progressive leaders, policies and initiatives for the 2020 elections and beyond. By creating and inclusive and forward thinking political movement on all levels of society, they are giving a chance for a better future, despite the concerns of the next four years.

With this article the idea was the same: despite the potentially upcoming struggles and challenges to give some hope: with organization, solidarity and planning we can have a more positive outlook on the future.


Laszlo Bugyi (25) a member of the Graduates of Democracy from Hungary, currently studying and working in Denmark at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense.


[1] Luís article

[2] Tjeerd article

[3] „The piecemaker”, The Economist, 12.11.2016.

[4] Crowley, Michael, „Trump victory provokes crises in foreign policy: From the Middle East to Eastern Europe to Asia to Mexico, countries brace for major changes.”, Politico, 09.11.2016.

[5] see Chanel 4 report on international reaction

[6] Guy Verhofstadt on Facebook

[7] again see the article written by Luís

[8] Žižek’s short interview with Chanel 4

[9] Corbyn, Jeremy, „Jeremy Corbyn: We need leaders who don’t abuse women, use racist language or pit people against each other”, The Mirror, 09.11.2016.

[10] more info at:

[11] more info at:


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