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MAY 2017



stepped-up intelligence sharing, to target smugglers.

Because migrants stranded in Libya are held in detention

centers, the E.U. also pledged to help authorities improve condi-

tions in such facilities—both to facilitate the process of integrat-

ing migrants into European society and to support international

organizations’ efforts to assist with voluntary returns.

A Changing Trans-Atlantic Relationship

As Brussels continues to deal with this migration crisis,

it is simultaneously forging a relationship with the new U.S.

administration. In February E.U. High Representative Federica

Mogherini visited Washington, D.C., and noted that for the first

time the main focus of her visit was the bilateral relationship,

rather than world crises. While speaking to the press during that

trip, she commented that the E.U. was entering “a time of a more

pragmatic and transactional kind of relationship with the United


This cautious tone was the result of continued uncertainty

over the nature of the relationship the Trump administra-

tion plans to have with Europe. In a strong reaction to remarks

President Trump made during his campaign, European Council

President Donald Tusk sent a letter to European leaders on Jan.

31, noting that “the change in Washington puts the European

Union in a difficult situation, with the new administration seem-

ing to put into question the last 70 years of American foreign


European leaders expressed strong opposition to Pres.

Trump’s likely nominee to be ambassador to the European

Union, Ted Malloch, because of his perceived hostility toward

the E.U. In a January BBC interview, when asked why he wished

to hold that position, Malloch responded: “I had, in a previous

career, a diplomatic post where I helped to bring down the Soviet

Union. So maybe there’s another union that needs taming.”

Other administration officials have been more positive about

the future of the relationship. In his February visit to Brussels,

Vice President Mike Pence said, “It is my privilege on behalf of

Pres. Trump to express the strong commitment of the United

States to continued cooperation and partnership with the Euro-

pean Union.”

However, Pierre LeCorre, an E.U. specialist at the Brookings

Institution, noted that the visit did not help to restore Europe’s

confidence in the relationship because “no one knows how con-

nected Pence is to the Trump foreign policy team.”

Executive Order 13769

, signed by Pres. Trump on Jan. 27,

further complicated the formation of a new U.S.-E.U. relation-

ship. The order capped the number of refugees to be resettled in

the United States in 2017 at 50,000 (the previous administration

had set a Fiscal Year 2017 ceiling of 110,000), suspended all refu-

gee admissions for at least 120 days, barred the entry of Syrian

refugees indefinitely and prohibited the entry of nationals from

seven specified countries (Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia,

Yemen and Iraq). European leaders did not hold back in their

criticism of this action.

During her February visit to Washington, Mogherini made

clear just how strongly Brussels disagreed with the executive

order. “The E.U. does not believe doors are open to all,” she

noted, “but also does not believe in walls or discrimination on

nationality.” According to LeCorre, “The U.S. no longer has any

credibility with the E.U. on migration issues.”

Following successful legal challenges to EO 13769, on March

6 the Trump administration issued a replacement, Executive Order 13780. The new E.O. also halted the admission of refug


for 120 days (from the same list of countries, minus Iraq). How-

ever, on March 15 the United States District Court for the District

of Hawaii issued a nationwide injunction prohibiting the Depart-

ment of State from enforcing or implementing Sections 2 and

6 of this executive order. Section 6 includes certain provisions

relating to refugee admissions. Consequently, the Department of

State has continued to admit refugees through the U.S. Refugee

Admission Program.

The first question to ask in determining the impact of a changing

trans-Atlantic relationship on the migration crisis is whether the

programs established by the Obama administration to assist

Europe in addressing the problemwill continue.