As the United States (US) President Donald Trump returns home from his first foreign trip the world is presented with two contrasting images from this major foreign policy benchmark. The President was received with pomp and fanfare in Saudi Arabia and with open arms in Israel as both nations sought to reaffirm their relationship with the US, a sentiment Donald Trump reciprocated. On the second half of the trip, while meeting with traditional European allies, Donald Trump cut a discordant and bullish figure – literally bundling leaders aside and criticising longstanding treaty obligations. As a result, the conclusion of the G-7 and NATO meeting does not do anything to lower the uncertainty surrounding the US’ commitment to the European project.

The clearest – and the most significant – indication comes from the comments of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who told a rally of 2,500 people in Munich where she kicked off her campaign to be re-elected that the EU must now be prepared to look after itself, that it could no longer depend on the United Kingdom (UK) or America; “we Europeans have to take fate into our own hands.” Coming three days after the departure of the US president, the comments indicate a shift in how Europe and especially Germany will interact with the world.

With the US non-committal over the Paris Climate Agreement, cordial towards Russia and at odds with Europe over NATO commitments and trade, European nations must come to the fore in global leadership. With the recently elected French president Emmanuel Macron supporting this sentiment, a Europe led by France and Germany seems set to emerge.

How will this Europe interact with the US and how will this new relationship affect global politics remains to be seen. However, it can be said with certainty that the era of US-Europe’s combined leadership of the west is over.