Something has fundamentally changed in the world when one of the leaders of the European Union mentions the American president among the top threats to European unity, along with Russian aggression, radical Islamic terrorism, and civil wars in the Middle East. On Tuesday, European Council President Donald Tusk did just that. In a letter to the heads of EU member states, he expressed deep misgivings about the other Donald, who has questioned the value of NATO, applauded Britain’s exit from the European Union, suggested other countries may also leave the bloc to reclaim “their own identity,” and dismissed the EU as merely a “vehicle for Germany” to assert its power.
The “change in Washington puts the European Union in a difficult situation; with the new administration seeming to put into question the last 70 years of American foreign policy,” Tusk wrote. Europe should try to preserve its close relations with the United States, he argued, but the EU should also respond to Trump’s protectionist trade policies by “intensifying” its trade talks with other countries. (The EU is the second-largest supplier of imports to the U.S. and America’s second-largest export market.)
Tusk also identified an internal danger for the European Union: the rise of “anti-EU, nationalist, increasingly xenophobic” populist movements in countries like France and the United Kingdom, for which Donald Trump has expressed support. “National egoism is ... becoming an attractive alternative to integration,” he warned, leaving the EU more vulnerable than it’s been since the signing in 1957 of the Treaty of Rome, which created an early version of the union.