Trump says Europe is in trouble. He has a point.
By Sebastian Mallaby January 17 at 7:46 PM
Sebastian Mallaby is a Post contributor and Paul A. Volcker senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is author of “The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan.”
Germany’s foreign minister reports “astonishment and agitation.” The French president protests indignantly about unsolicited “outside advice .” Even Secretary of State John F. Kerry sees behavior that is “inappropriate.” President-elect Donald Trump’s weekend interview, in which he casually predicted the breakup of the European Union, has certainly attracted attention. But despite the consternation, there is some truth in Trump’s message. The E.U., he observed, is dominated by Germany. “People, countries want their own identity,” he said.
The most obvious vindication of Trump’s warning comes from Britain, whose prime minister, Theresa May, has just laid out her plans for a hard break with the European Union. May could have interpreted June’s Brexit referendum differently, seeking the “Norway model” of continued membership in the E.U.’s Single Market even while withdrawing from the E.U.’s political structures. But, to paraphrase Trump, the prime minister evidently believes that Britain must have its own identity. She is determined to curb E.U. migration, even though migrants contribute positively to the economy; she wants out of the European Court of Justice, even though that court has upheld British commercial interests in the past. Combined, these two positions rule out continued Single Market membership. The E.U. is losing its second-biggest economic power.