Speaking to the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Mehdi Shapouri said that the role Europe played in global affairs after the World War II was under the shadow of the United States and depended on Washington for security, economic and trade issues. The Europeans took advantage of the Americans’ “free ride” opportunity and, in return, were loyal to the United States and supported its international political and diplomatic agendas; but with the Trump administration coming to power, that situation changed.

Referring to the policies of the US administration towards the European Union during Trump’s presidency and the US emphasis on the need for the EU to pay for maintaining their security by the US, he added: Of course, this issue was also raised in the Obama administration, but in the Trump administration it was addressed more explicitly and seriously and created tensions between Europe and the United States to the extent that the Europeans raised the issue of increasing their military power and creating a security and military structure independent of the United States.

Revival of Europe-US Relations

With regard to the prospects of the US-Europe relations, the faculty member of the Research Institute for Strategic Studies said: It seems that with the return of the Democrats and the internationalist approach in the United States, the US-Europe relations will be revived to a large extent. Of course, the challenge posed by the Trump administration has led the Europeans to think that they should work in the long run in line with increasing their independence, especially in the political and security fields.

Referring to the status of the power gaining of the right-wing in the European Union, Shapouri said: The power of the right in Europe increased at the same time that the Trump administration came to power. Nevertheless, despite some victories of the rightists in Europe, it cannot be said that they won; in France, for example, they failed, and in Germany, they failed to gain a foothold at the highest levels of power.

Weakening of Right Wing in Europe in the Short Term

He continued: The Democrats oppose Brexit and are seeking to maintain Europe’s internal solidarity as an ally of the United States and prefer Britain, as the United States’ closest ally in the bloc, play its traditional role in advancing US-backed policies in the European Union. With the coming to power of the new administration in the United States, in the short term, the right-wing in Europe will be further weakened; but in the long run, due to some chronic economic and social problems and challenges at the global level and in many European countries, the return of the right-wingers and extremists with nationalist and populist slogans is quite possible.

Referring to the political situation in some East European governments, such as Hungary, which found a good opportunity to strengthen its authoritarianism during the Trump administration, the international affairs analyst added: With the Biden administration coming to power in the United States, such governments will have to change their agenda and review them on the basis of the new conditions and what Germany and France are seeking for strengthening the European Union.

Role of Europe in Global Affairs

He further said: Europe is not yet able to play an independent role in important global issues so that it can carry out its agenda independently of the United States. They are aware of this fact and have even admitted it; as French President Emmanuel Macron speaking about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (also known as the Iran Nuclear Agreement) said: The Europeans could not secure Iran’s interests in this agreement under the US pressure.

Trump’s Shadow Remains over Europe and the World

Referring to some reports on the possibility of Trump running in the next elections in 2024, Shapouri said: Trump’s shadow will remain over the European Union and the world and given the sharp political and social divisions in the United States, there is the possibility that someone more radical than Trump will come to power in the next elections. In the face of this threat, the European Union may take gradual steps to increase its independence from the United States; nevertheless, Europe will have a long way to go to reach the level of an independent political player which can have a great deal of manoeuvring power in international affairs.

As for Poland vetoing the proposed EU budget for 2021-2027 and increasing speculation that the country may leave the European Union, he said: When the Republicans come to power in the United States, they try to make a part of Europe more coordinated with their agenda. We also witnessed this policy in the George Bush administration. The new Europe is at a much lower level of power and military spending than the old Europe. These countries tend to align with the US agendas in order to have sufficient support to counter such threats.

The faculty member of the Research Institute for Strategic Studies, referring to the US efforts to withdraw troops from Germany and deploy them on the Polish soil, said: This is a game that the Republicans in the United States have played in relation to Europe, and this has had advantages for the two sides, namely the Republican administrations in the United States and some new European countries. In other words, both the Americans have blocked the way to the European consensus in opposing their policies, and the new European countries have taken advantage of the American game.

Polish Government Unlikely to Advance Polexit

Shapouri described the possibility of Poland leaving the European Union, known as “Polexit”, as weak for several reasons: Public opinion in Poland has a very positive attitude towards the European Union, and according to a recent poll, 81% of the Polish population will vote to stay in the EU if a referendum is to be held. In a referendum on joining Europe in 2003, 74% of the Polish people voted in favour.

He further continued: Poland is severely dependent on the European Union and its common market. In 2018, 80% of Poland’s exports were to the European Union while 58% of its imports were from the EU; therefore, leaving the EU will have heavy costs for this country. Britain was the sixth-largest economy in the world, but it sustained a heavy loss by leaving the European Union. Poland is the 22nd largest economy in the world with a much stronger dependence on the European Union.

Saying that by leaving the European Union, Poland will be isolated which could increase the Russian threat against the country, he said: Biden administration will not also welcome Poland’s exit from the EU; therefore, in the new environment, it seems very unlikely that Poland will be able to advance the issue of leaving the EU, and it will also reconsider those policies and continue the process of convergence in Europe.