Trump, Merkel and Macron John Macdougall/Getty Images

Europe in the Time of Trump

Almost daily, new evidence emerges that Trump remains committed to his “America First” approach, which renounces the traditional US role as the world’s main defender of liberal democracy. The only way to protect the liberal world order is for other powers – beginning with the EU – to step into the breach.

BRUSSELS – The transatlantic alliance – which for decades has underpinned global stability, fortified democracy, and safeguarded the West as we know it – is under severe strain, and risks terminal decline. US President Donald Trump – who has repeatedly challenged America’s traditional alliances, including by attacking NATO – undoubtedly bears much responsibility for this deterioration. But Europe, through its inaction, has also contributed to this state of affairs – and now it must contribute to fixing it.

The West’s malaise is, no doubt, a result of the ongoing and unresolved economic-governance challenges created by globalization. These challenges are particularly acute in the European Union, where policy paralysis has prevented governments from fully implementing the reforms needed to overcome the financial crisis that began a decade ago.

European leaders agree that the eurozone’s current institutional setup is flawed, and they know what must be done. But they remain plagued by inertia, immobilized by conservatism, and preoccupied by domestic politics, with many leaders allowing themselves to be taken hostage by populist Euroskepticism. As a result, they have failed to take the steps required to ensure the EU’s long-term stability, including a complete banking union to backstop Europe’s finances and a genuine system of EU-wide economic governance.