According to this source, Angela Merkel seems to convey a message of serious decline of relations between EU and US:

Clearly disappointed with Mr. Trump’s positions on NATO, Russia, climate change and trade, Ms. Merkel said in Munich on Sunday that traditional alliances were no longer as steadfast as they once were and that Europe should pay more attention to its own interests “and really take our fate into our own hands.”

“The times in which we could rely fully on others — they are somewhat over,” Ms. Merkel added, speaking on the campaign trail after a contentious NATO summit meeting in Brussels and a Group of 7 meeting in Italy. “This is what I experienced in the last few days.”

While climate change disagreement is clear and also explained within this very site, NATO and Russia matters do not seem to be different. According to Bloomberg, US stills allocates significant budget for NATO, including European Reassurance Initiative:

The war funding request of $65 billion includes $46 billion to support Afghanistan operations with a U.S. force level of 8,448 personnel. It doesn’t provide for additional U.S. troops, pending a White House decision on a request from the military to add more troops, Roth said.

In addition, $13 billion is requested for operations in Iraq and Syria and $4.8 billion is sought for the European Reassurance Initiative intended to bolster deterrence against Russia.

Question: While climate change subject seems irreducible between US and EU, why did Angela Merkel suggest a decline when it comes to NATO and Russia issues?

  • 5
    When rating current statements from German politicians, keep in mind that this is an election year in Germany.
    – Philipp
    May 31, 2017 at 20:09
  • 2
    She is only following Trump's example. "Europe should pay more attention to its own interests" is basically a consequence of "America first". However, her reaction is probably not only due to what Trump said at the summits, but also how he said it and how he behaves towards other nations' leaders ("Germans are bad, very bad").
    – Roland
    Jun 1, 2017 at 13:47

2 Answers 2


The speech from Merkel was held in a Bierzelt and is part of a political campaign for this years election. Trump is strongly disliked in Germany, even among members of Merkels right-wing CDU (~6% approval and 80% disapproval), so it makes sense for her to take a strong stance.

Apart from that, you already mentioned the important points:

  • Climate Change: This is an important topic for Europe and Merkel, and Trump is a climate-change denier.
  • Trade: Merkel is a proponent of free trade, while Trump is not.
  • NATO: While the US does still allocate funds to NATO, the current rhetoric coming from Trump - see here, here, or here regarding NATO (as well as his nationalist and isolationist rhetoric in general) - suggested that he wants to change the role of the US. Taking this into considerations, it makes sense for Merkel to suggest to rely less on the US in this regard.
  • Russia: Ignoring any investigation into possible collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia, Trump has on numerous occasions suggested that a stronger relation to Russia would be beneficial to the US.

There has been an increasing gulf between Germany and the US due to different geo-political considerations. This existed in the cold war but has been exacerbated since the ending of the cold war had brought the existence of NATO into question.

Germany is essentially pacifist now, but the US is quite gung-ho about military interventions. Relations were not very good even under Obama - eg he asked for support in the middle east and also declared the pivot to the pacific.

Since Trump got into power he does not share the traditional foreign policy establishment view of things in Europe, and he is very anti many of Europe's cherished policies and beliefs (eg climate change).

During the cold war Europe could rely on the US, and the IS bore the cost and insults. Now Europe feels the US may not come to their aid, and Trumps demands for increased European defence spending is not welcome.

This the disconnects and tensions that existed in the cold war have now come very much to the surface. The EU is getting more assertive and beginning to act like a nation state and that will continue. Europe has largely different goals than the US - eg Europe by and large believes in a very comprehensive welfare state and is prepared to pay the taxes to support it, the US by and large thinks differently.

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