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How Trump’s criticism of the EU makes the region stronger


French President Emmanuel Macron at a press conference at the Chancellery on May 15, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.

Axel Schmidt | Getty Image

French President Emmanuel Macron at a press conference at the Chancellery on May 15, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.

“Your victory is a sign of hope,” European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted in response to Macron’s win. “For a Europe that protects, wins and looks to the future.”

Optimism for the European Union has surged since Macron’s election, according to new research by Oxford Economics published Friday. Only 19 percent of businesses cite a eurozone break-up as the key medium-term risk for the global economy, down from 28 percent in the second quarter survey and the lowest level in more than a year.

Jamie Thompson, Head of Macro Scenarios at Oxford Economics, told CNBC via phone on Friday upbeat sentiment about the eurozone correlates with a drop in concern over European populism.

“Since the Le Pen defeat, concerns about that have collapsed,” Thompson said. “Of the eight top risk categories…populism is basically at the bottom.”

European leaders have stressed the importance of an integrated EU in response to Trump’s populist and protectionist threats. The EU and Japan negotiated a major trade deal ahead of the G20 summit that would remove tariffs on some exports between the two blocs.

“The depth of this agreement goes beyond free trade… it shows that closing ourselves off to the world is neither good for business, nor for the global economy, nor for our workers,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement in July.

EU leaders are also taking steps towards creating more military cooperation across the union. The new European Defense Fund aims to generate more than $6 billion per year after 2020 in defense research and development.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel echoed calls for a stronger, more united EU in a speech in Munich in May, saying Europeans must “take our fate into our own hands.” Merkel pledged to increase Germany’s military spending to two percent of its GDP, amid Trump’s repeated demands that EU allies must pay more for defense.

“The times in which we can fully rely on others are somewhat over,” Merkel said in her speech in Munich in May this year.

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