11/17/16 | Will Schwinghammer | Guest Correspondent
On the Surface
This week, Barack Obama left for his final trip to Europe as President of the United States. Obama has prioritized European-relations in the past, and on his final visit, hopes to reaffirm these ties before leaving office in January. On this last trip, it’s important for him to secure solid relationships for President-elect Trump–especially with uncertainty stemming from Brexit–address Trump’s unprecedented election, and discuss the rise of right-wing nationalism in Europe.
Frexit? The Death of the EU?
Britain’s vote to leave the European Union coupled with a recent rise right-wing nationalism across Europe spells danger for unity in Europe. A Brexit domino effect may indeed be imminent, as French Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has recently threatened to hold EU exit referendums if elected. Obama’s handling of this situation on his final tour is crucial, especially considering Trump’s pro-Brexit and anti-NATO comments. Ensuring that the new U.S. President inherits a working relationship with Europe–a quickly changing continent–is the first step to good relations.
What can Obama do?
One step Obama can take to preserve current U.S.-Europe relations is defending the EU. By easing fears that Trump will abandon European allies, and asserting the importance of unity, Obama can effectively alleviate tensions. While the number of nations in favor of a united Europe is dwindling, Obama can work to prevent–or at least soften–the possibility of a divided Europe.