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President Trump erupted in November over what he called a "very insulting" proposal from Macron for a "real European army."

Macron parades down the Champs-Elysees on Bastille Day. Photo: Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images.

Between the lines: When it comes to the EU army, or calls from Merkel and Macron for greater "strategic autonomy” in response to an unpredictable U.S., many in Europe are on Trump's side.

I sat down with Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs yesterday in Washington, and he told me that "very dangerous rhetoric" is "fueling this sense that something is changing fundamentally."

  • "Let’s face it. The United States plays an extremely important role in European security — through NATO, through the decades-long presence of its military on European soil — even more after Crimea and Ukraine.”
  • "Of course that kind of rhetoric ... on both sides of the Atlantic — 'well, you are not spending enough,' and all the issues that are related to the trade — do complicate relations. But I wouldn’t say those relations are changing in a way that one can already say, ‘We can’t rely anymore on the United States and now we need a European army.’
  • Not only would a European army be virtually impossible for practical reasons, Rinkēvičs argued, "There would be very legitimate questions from the United States: 'If you need your own army ... then we can go home.' That’s exactly what we don’t want.”

Why it matters: Rinkēvičs said he's confident Latvia doesn't face "immediate military risks or threats" from Russia, largely because there are now NATO troops on the ground, but the Baltics are not "somewhere in the Middle of Europe where the notion of invasion is just a fairytale."

Between the lines: Brookings' Constanze Stelzenmüller says there is genuine momentum in Europe on collective defense, and areas in which it makes sense: crisis response, humanitarian aid, cybersecurity. She says the "European army" rhetoric "suggests a capability and intent" far beyond reality and is "part of their attempt to respond to their voters' concerns about Trump."

Go deeper

Updated 31 mins ago - Technology

Mayors see cryptocurrency as a way to address income inequality

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

At the U.S. Conference of Mayors' meeting in D.C. this week, there's buzz around the idea of giving cryptocurrency accounts to low-income people.

Why it matters: Cities have been experimenting with newfangled ways to address income inequality — like guaranteed income programs — and the latest wave of trials could involve paying benefits or dividends in bitcoin, stablecoin or other digital currencies.

Updated 33 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February
  2. Vaccines: Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker
Updated 3 hours ago - Sports

Experts predict major boom for North American sports stadiums

Rendering of the $375 million Moody Center on the UT-Austin campus. Photo courtesy of Moody Center

Stadium and arena construction in North America will total a relatively tame $5.8 billion this year, a 12% decrease from 2021.

The big picture: What the industry lacks in construction it expects to make up for in design, with experts predicting a sports venue boom over the next half-decade, SBJ reports.