1. Trump would seek to fundamentally reevaluate NATO's purpose and mission. If European capitals outright oppose Trump, NATO could split, with the risk of the institution failing altogether and increased doubts about U.S. backing for European security. For some time, many Republicans, not just Trump, have seen Europe as a freeloader, relying on the United States for its security and shouldering less than its fair share of the defense burden. Any break over Trump’s dealing with Putin could deepen resentment on both sides and lead to an irreparable rupture. If Trump is reelected, understanding his intentions early and gaining his ear will be critical for European leaders to mitigate the risks of a breakdown in ties. Rebuilding a democratic and economically thriving Ukraine might be the best revenge against Russia, and Europe will need to be on the leading edge of any reconstruction because the United States is unlikely to provide any sort of Marshall Plan for Ukraine under Trump.  
  2. Trump would want European allies to pay the U.S. for what it's spent in Ukraine and he’d demand compensation from Europe for the massive amounts of military hardware the U.S. has delivered. 
  3. Trump would call for pausing Ukraine funding. He would force Ukraine and Russia to make a peace act within 24 hours of his election hinting that Ukraine would have to cede chunks of its eastern territory. Trump's position is that anything is better than escalating hostilities between two nuclear powers, the U.S. and Russia. Russia’s war in Ukraine has turned into a battle of attrition in the second year, with the risk that neither side will gain or lose much territory, and the possibility for the conflict to drag on for the foreseeable future.  Trump has repeatedly vowed to end “this ridiculous war,” conceding that doing so could mean that Ukraine will need to give up some of its territory. In his words, “I think the biggest thing that the U.S. should be doing right now is making peace - getting Russia and Ukraine together and making peace.” Another Trump presidency could turn the tide on American support for Ukraine. Trump could get Putin to come to the table but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy would have to be willing to compromise on his maximalist demands for more than a temporary cease-fire to occur. Of course, there are benefits to ending the fighting, which is causing mounting casualties on both sides and catastrophic damage to Ukrainian infrastructure and the country’s ability to easily recover. A Trump administration could not lift all U.S. sanctions on Russia without congressional approval. And hawks within the Republican party would most likely resist doing anything more than helping to end the fighting. Europe would be put into a quandary. On the one hand, a cessation of the fighting would be welcome because the European public is also beginning to tire of the war, and the radical right favorable to Putin has grown significantly in different European states. On the other hand, any quick solution is unlikely to last. Not only will Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian public feel aggrieved and want to regain the country’s lost territory, but Putin could also see advantages in reopening the conflict, particularly to keep Ukraine out of NATO.  
  4. Trump promises an even harder line on trade than in his first term. He's promising a universal baseline tariff- an import penalty on most products. And he says he'd raise them much higher for countries with their own high tariffs.
  5. Trump would escalate trade actions against China. He promises to rescind the country's decades-old eligibility for standard U.S. tariff rates, known as Most Favoured Nation. That would require an act of Congress and some Republicans have already introduced similar bills.. Trump promises numerous other actions, like the tariffs he imposed under national-security exemptions (which Biden left in place). Trump promises a multi-pronged policy push on China, from trade sanctions to a ban on entry to the U.S. for members of a Communist Party. He promises a four-year plan to phase out Chinese imports of essential goods (from electronics to medicine); restrictions on Chinese investment in the U.S.'s strategic industries (like energy, technology and farming); restrictions on U.S. investment in China; and a ban on federal contracts for companies outsourcing jobs to China.
  6. On Taiwan, Trump has hinted in an interview that he would not decide to defend the island against a Chinese invasion, criticizing the country for having stolen its thriving semiconductor business from the United States. When pressed to explain his position, Trump said he would not disclose more to avoid undermining any negotiations he intends to conduct with China. Beijing on the other hand sees Trump as more interested in a “deal” to settle differences and less able to rally allies and partners than the current Biden Administration. The former president has also never demonstrated any passion for human rights or preaching democracy. 
  7. Trump is hinting he would ignore a recent ruling under the dispute system of the new North American trade pact, raising questions about the stability of the agreement and whether it will be reliably enforced. It's complicated, but the issue in a nutshell is that after the pact was signed, the U.S. said it interpreted the language of the deal as requiring far more North American parts in cars than Canada and Mexico agreed to. The U.S. called it a matter of preserving jobs on this continent, but Canada and Mexico viewed it as a sneaky way of forcing companies selling in the U.S. to produce parts in the U.S. An international dispute panel sided with Canada and Mexico. Trump called the ruling a "globalist assault" on U.S. workers – and said he would communicate to Canada and Mexico that full compliance with the pact is not optional. 
  8.  Trump would pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord — again. He probably couldn't undo Biden's landmark climate law funding green energy, which requires an act of Congress. But some analysts believe he could sabotage its implementation.
  9. Trump would also try to complete his border wall with Mexico, only a fraction of which was built during his time in office.


Whether it is the Ukraine conflict, China, or future transatlantic relations, Trump’s economic nationalism and foreign policy restraint are certainly challenges for Europe, but could also prove to be opportunities. Decision-makers in Brussels and other European capitals will have to settle their disputes and start employing some realpolitik if they do not want to be the biggest losers from a Trump 2.0 world. The most immediate threat would be in the security realm, especially if Trump abruptly turns his back on NATO, leaving Europe more vulnerable to Moscow’s aggression. More likely, however, pulling out of NATO will be a slow process even if the writing is on the wall. Europeans could hope that a more friendly Democratic or traditionalist Republican administration returns after Trump leaves office, but over time, they should probably prepare for a United States that has turned its focus to Asia and increasingly expects Europe to provide for most of its security.



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