US trade barriers, building walls “doomed to fail”

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The European Union trade chief says the trade policies US President Trump has set out are “doomed to fail” and that the world’s biggest trading bloc remains committed to open borders and economies.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said Tuesday that most countries still share the same vision of open trade and investments.

She said that “building a wall is not the answer. The success of the EU relies on our open societies.”

Malmstrom said “those who in the 21st century think that we can become great again by rebuilding borders, re-imposing trade barriers, restricting people’s freedom to move, they are doomed to fail.”

Trump’s decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Monday was seen as an indicator to a more closed US trade policy.

‘Alternative facts’ about the EU, Germany and Brexit

The US President appears to be misinformed by ‘alternative facts’ about the history and nature of the European integration project. The EU – and its precursors – was not “formed, partially, to beat the United States on trade.” No, the project of European integration was among the outcomes of America’s efforts to rebuild Europe after the Second World War.

The Marshall Plan, announced in June 1947, was predicated on European countries’ building explicit structures for cooperation. First the Committee of European Economic Cooperation was convened in the summer of the same year, giving impetus to efforts to coordinate economic policies in Europe.

Those culminated with the plan to integrate the German and French coal and steel industries under the auspices of the Schuman Declaration. The rest is, as they say, history.

Neither is it true that the EU is “a vehicle for Germany.” True, Germany is the EU’s largest economy and Ms. Merkel has been the most influential leader within the bloc. Germany also holds the most voting power within the Council (16.06%), followed by France (13.05%) and the United Kingdom (12.79%), reflective of their respective populations. Germans, however, cannot impose their will on other members – not even within the Eurozone, where Germany’s voting power accounts for 24.10% of the total. In any event, most decisions are taken either by qualified majority vote (requiring 55% of member states, representing at least 65% of the EU population, to vote in favor) or by unanimity.

Mr. Trump’s explanation for the UK’s vote to leave the European Union? “If they hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees […] I (Trump) think that you wouldn’t have a Brexit.” But as a country that is not a part of the Schengen Area, the UK has not participated in the EU’s relocation scheme – the number of refugees it was “forced to take in” is thus exactly zero.