Today we all returned from our long weekends feeling refreshed and ready to jump back into learning about the EU and transatlantic relations. It’s pretty hot in Metz right now (mid to upper 90s!), and since air conditioning is more of a luxury in Europe than in the US, I think we were all relieved to be spending the day inside the nicely air conditioned classroom.

Since the NATO and G7 summits had been held this past weekend, it was fitting that we started off class by watching a virtual briefing on Trump’s foreign policy and transatlantic relations after his first 100 days (which you can watch here) before seeing if any of the things mentioned came up this weekend. The members of the panel, including Dr. Young from Tech, also talked a bit about Brexit, so that factored into some our our discussion too, especially on the EU side.

Of course, during our discussion of the positives and negatives that came out of the summits, we couldn’t help talking about this incident:

We also talked about what some of the possible implications are of what was said during the summit—like Trump being the first president not to explicitly state US support for Article V, his meetings with both the Belgian and French leaders, the call for members to meet the 2% GDP spending, and the possibility that the United States will pull out of the Paris Climate Accord.

There were also multiple questions asked today that we will be keeping in mind during our trip. The first: To what extent are the EU and US diverging, and what are the consequences of such divergence? We heard this weekend that Angela Merkel essentially said Europe could no longer rely on the United States, which certainly hints at a divergence—especially if the US ultimately decides to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord as well. We’ll have to see what else happens before coming up with an answer by the end of the summer, and I’m sure this question will come up again during the EU-US relations simulation we’ll be doing later.

The second question was difficult to answer, and I actually didn’t even give an answer when Emma asked the class: Do you think Brexit and Trump will be a good thing for the EU? It’s hard to say because there are both positives and negatives that have arisen since each event in the EU context. Of course more support for the EU from the European people is a good thing, but I’m not sure having two difficult allies and losing an important member state will be. It will certainly be something I think about as the summer continues, especially during our time in Brussels and with the U.K. General Election happening on June 8th.

The last thing we did in class today was have a mini lecture on EU foreign and defense policies, learning more about the European External Action Service (kind of like the State Department of the EU) and the Common Security and Defense Policy. First, we identified the resources that the EU has, like member states that are medium sized and nuclear powers, have seats on the UN Security Council, and collective defense and soft power. We also identified some obstacles, like disagreements or different national interests that make it hard for the EU to form one foreign or defense policy. In particular, we learned about how the CSDP in particular works in relation to NATO and discussed the possibility of there ever being a European Army after what took place at the NATO summit.

Finally, we took a break from discussing the future of the world to watch a film discussing an issue that is still very real in America: racism. The film was called “I Am Not Your Negro” and it used the writings of James Baldwin to discuss the Civil Rights Movement in America and some of the movement’s key figures. However, it was made even more powerful by incorporating footage and drawing comparisons with what is still happening in America today, like Ferguson and the Black Lives Matter movement. Overall, the film was really well done (a bunch of us cried), and it was very eye-opening as well.