One of the most important consequences of the beginning of the Trump presidency is that the last pillar of the old European diplomacy is gone. The new POTUS openly dislikes NATO, will support a new age of economic protectionism (Buy American! Anybody out there remembers this catch phrase?) and is ready to redesign the US foreign policy.
Politically speaking, Europe is surrounded by change. Putin from the East, who will do everything to break EU apart in order to stop the NATO expansion; Erdogan from the southeast, ready and willing to use the desperate masses of refugees to put pressure on Greece and the Balkan area; the bloody turmoil in Syria and the uncertain situation in Lybia. From Morocco to Lebanon, from Ukraine to Moldova, the voice of Europe is badly needed.
So far, EU managed to accomplish little in foreign policy due to the perennial conflict of too many different national issues when it comes to economics or geopolitics. The European parliament and the European commission do not hold any real power of intervention and the decisional process is slow at best. The UK decision of leaving the EU, at the present only a formal intention, forecast a potential identity crisis in the whole union.
This year we will have national elections in France, Holland and in Germany and the present situation of uncertainty is likely to help all the parties that voice nationalism and isolationism to gain more consensus (and more power, of course). 2017 will mark the spot for the future of the EU; Europeans citizens, potentially the most powerful alliance in the world, will have to choose between a future of great challenges or a return to an older model, made of two-bit alliances between jealous states.
The world will not wait until Europe will be ready to face the present challenges. Immigration, innovation, geopolitical shifts, and security threats will not wait for some bureaucrat to show up. Nor the world will wait for the new populist movements to settle up and grow some idea out of the blue. It’s now or never, even if we don’t like it.