The incumbent French President, François Hollande, had urged the EU to ‘stand firm’ in the face of rhetoric coming from the new US President, Donald Trump.
Trump’s earlier statements about the EU have made it clear that his new administration may take an entirely different approach in US/EU relations. Trump has criticized the migration policies of German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, hailed Brexit and hinted that other member countries will follow Britain’s example and leave the Union.
Naturally, such rhetoric has caused uneasiness among European leaders, already suspicious of Trump and his approach to key questions such as NATO, Russia and free trade deals.
On a sidelines of a summit in Portugal, Hollande said:
Whenever there are statements coming from the president of the United States on Europe and whenever he talks of Brexit as a model for other countries, I believe we should respond.
It remains unclear, however, what type of response this might be. Hollande is one of the least popular Presidents in modern French history. He decided not to run for the second term in the upcoming French Presidential election, due to low approval ratings and opposition to his policies.
The leader of the Front National, widely regarded by the mainstream media and public opinion as ‘extreme right’, Marine Le Pen, has openly supported Trump and called his victory ‘a sign of hope for France’.
Most polls see Le Pen as one of the top two contenders to succeed Hollande after this year’s Presidential election.
Aside from declarations calling for ‘unity’ and rejection of Trump’s policies, the EU will likely provide no real response to the changed circumstances of international politics.
As the shadow of Trump presidency continues to extend over the EU, Brussels will also have to endure a tide of Euro-skeptic forces across the continent.
Image: The Guardian