21ST APRIL 2016
The United States (US) continued keenness on the continuity of the EU is due to a combination of economic, security interests and shared values.
The EU is the biggest single market for US export which accounts for more than 20% of total US exports, of which around 20% goes to the UK, 62% going to (Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium and Italy combined) and the rest to the remaining 22 countries of the EU. In comparison only 7% of total exports go to China. Also, the US is the biggest single market for EU export which account for 18% of total EU exports.
Both parties aim to advance their trade relations through The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). From the US economic perspective, it is in its interest that its biggest single market remains stable and steadily growing. Brexit goes against all that as it risks to destabilise the EU and affects its economic performance. Furthermore, the UK is the US ‘s biggest market within the EU and it presents its main gateway to Europe and therefore Brexit risks disrupt this trade relation.
The US’s interest in the EU goesbeyond trade interest, it considers the EU an advance front of allies that as they remain united and stable present a regional security and economic order. The EU has been a transformative power which has turned former communist countries into democratic and developing countries and is in the process of stabilising the Balkans and Brexit risks to unsettle this project.
The EU presents the model that illustrates the US’s vision of regional orders as presented in the latest National Security Strategy Document, which states, “we are advancing a longer-term affirmative agenda in each of the regions, which prioritizes reinvigorating alliances with long-standing friends, making investments in new partnerships with emerging democratic powers with whom our interests are increasingly aligned, and continuing to support the development of capable, inclusive regional institutions to help enforce common international rules”.
The EU is an advanced project in this direction and from the perspective of the US, it is neither in the interest of the US or European countries to see this project crumbles. For the US, the EU as a an entity is an indispensable partner in deterring threats and imposing international norms with tremendous economic leverage in the background. The cases of Iranian nuclear programme negotiations and sanctions on Russia are clear illustrations of this partnership.
Furthermore, a stable and united Europe allows the US to pursue its rebalance to Asia and the Pacific policy. The same National Security Strategy document predicts nearly half of the global growth outside of the US will come from Asia in the coming 5 years. Given the security dynamics in the region with the North Korea nuclear programme and the struggle in the South China Sea, the US is engaged in increasing its military presence in Asia pacific and decreasing its presence in Europe. This policy expects that Europe will take more responsibility in its own security. This is only possible if it stays united. If the EU disintegrates, security coordination in Europe will certainly fall apart. The current governments in Poland and Hungary, Brexit risks to send the EU into doubt and the continent into division.
The US understandably seeks to avoid Brexit before it happens and that is the reason for President Obama’s visit to the UK this week and his speech in favour for Britain to remain in the EU.
However, and in the event of Brexit, the US will certainly use its leverage to keep Europe united . The US has significant leverage on Eastern European Countries which they can use to prevent any division. Post Brexit negotiation will probably be more about the politics of the Brexit rather than the economies of German car companies or French farmers as stated by Eurosceptic. It is certain that the big European countries, as stated by the German Finance Minister and the French Minister of economy, are prepared to take tough decisions in this process. It is also not unlikely that the US will back the EU in the process, given that the TTIP will be in the picture. This can be the start of the diminishing of the special relationships.
There is no reason to doubt that the US has a genuine concern that BREXIT will weaken the UK as it impacts the UK’s economy and its unity and eventually its global influence.