How should Germany react to “America first”? In the words of Foreign Minister Maas: “The time has come for us to recalibrate the transatlantic partnership – not with the aim of abandoning it, but rather to preserve it.” The five main points are:
1) #EuropeUnited: strengthening the EU
An individual state cannot single-handedly do much to counteract the policies of US President Trump. However, if Europeans pool their political and economic forces within the EU, our voice will be heard. Foreign Minister Maas has declared that our response to “America First” is “Europe United”. If Europe is to be a counterweight, it must become stronger and present a more united front.
2) Investing in security
For decades Europe has relied on the protection of the United States. And it is still true today that nowhere is partnership with America as vital as in the area of security. It is high time that Europeans invested in their own defence capabilities. Step by step, we need to establish a European defence Union.
3) Becoming more independent
In areas where the United States does not want to continue to cooperate, we need to be in a position to go ahead without it. This is the case, for example, with the nuclear agreement with Iran, which has made the entire region safer. We need the resources to keep the agreement in place even if the United States withdraws from it. A European monetary fund and independent payment channels could strengthen Europe’s autonomy.
4) Forging new networks
Germany has a keen interest in ensuring that values such as cooperation, respect for international law and free trade are not stifled in global politics. With this in mind, Germany intends to establish a network of states which support these values: a group of foreign policy team players who stand for cooperation and binding regulations. Foreign Minister Maas has already held initial consultations on this issue with Japan, Canada and South Korea. “The door is wide open – particularly for the United States,” he has said.
5) Keeping communication channels open
Despite major changes, the United States will remain our most important partner outside Europe. In order to preserve and strengthen the friendship that has evolved between the people in Germany and the United States, our societies need to re-engage in dialogue. With the Deutschlandjahr USA, the Federal Foreign Office is therefore providing a powerful catalyst for a new lease of life for cultural exchange between our two countries.