BRUSSELS • European Union (EU) President Donald Tusk (picture) said he has “different views” from US President Donald Trump on trans-Atlantic relations and other elements of geopolitical order, pushing back after the American leader’s latest criticism of Europe.
Tusk’s remarks came after Trump called “very insulting” comments by French President Emmanuel Macron that a “strong and sovereign Europe” is needed to defend its interests against China, Russia and “even the US”. Macron moved to smooth relations at a meeting with Trump in Paris on Saturday.
“As far as I recall, today for the first time in history we have an American administration which, to put it delicately, is not very enthusiastically tuned in to a united, strong Europe,” Tusk said in a speech in Poland on Saturday. “And I’m talking here about facts, not about propaganda statements.
And I say this as someone who has — let’s say — the satisfaction of having fairly frequent direct exchanges with the president of the US,” Tusk said.
“Maybe he’s quite open with me because we are namesakes, and I have no doubt whatsoever that in those matters which — in my view — are the geopolitical foundation of Poland’s independence, namely a strong EU, close integration between Europe and the US, even closer than today, and the trans-Atlantic community, which is the essence of the global order, I have no doubt that with regard to all of this I have different views from my most influential namesake in the world,” Tusk said.
Tusk also warned that nationalist sentiment will lead to a “fundamental threat” in the EU as the bloc prepares for legislative elections next year.
“I see no coincidence in the fact that in virtually all of Europe, whether openly or more discreetly, those who are enthusiastic about Brexit, those who are more or less enthusiastic about Washington’s further steps towards isolationism, those who are flirting with Vladimir Putin with increasing intensity, they are all attempting, also more or less unambiguously, to persuade us that the EU in general, or in its current shape, has no future,” Tusk said in the speech.
“The problem is that today, those who are cheering on nationalism in Europe, those who are betting on disintegration and conflict, will inevitably lead to an absolutely fundamental threat,” Tusk said.
“I am talking here about the rise of nationalism and anti-European, not only rhetoric, but also anti-European emotion, in many European capitals,” he said. “This does not yet apply to today’s leaders, but these forces are growing before our very eyes. They are forces which back conflict rather than cooperation, disintegration rather than integration,” Tusk said.
“In a few months’ time, we will be electing the parliament in Europe,” Tusk said. “It cannot be ruled out that two political currents might occupy very powerful positions in that Parliament: One, increasingly brownshirted, unambiguously anti-European, looking more and more clearly towards nationalism, working against the EU as such. The other current belongs to those who want to integrate the EU as much as possible,” he said.
EU political parties are manoeuvring in preparation for the May 2019 elections to the European Parliament amid a populist surge that could affect the direction of the bloc. In addition to electing EU lawmakers, the results also will affect the appointment of the European Commission president, who leads the bloc’s executive arm in Brussels.