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Donald Trump’s return could leave Europe ‘on its own’, De Croo warns

Donald Trump's return could leave Europe 'on its own', De Croo warns

Speaking at the first plenary session of the year in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, De Croo said Europe should «not fear» the prospect of a Trump comeback.

«If 2024 brings us America First again, it will be more than ever Europe on its own,»  De Croo said.

Трубочисты Петербурга

«We should, as Europeans, not fear that prospect,» he added. «We should embrace it by putting Europe on a more solid footing, stronger, more sovereign, more self-reliant.»

His stark warning came hours after Trump’s landslide victory in the Iowa caucus — a first decisive step towards becoming the 2024 Republican presidential candidate.

A Republican takeover in the US presidential elections in November — whether Trumpian or not — threatens to severely disrupt the West’s tightly aligned policy on Ukraine.

The US is Kyiv’s biggest donor of military and financial aid, but the support has been stalled due to calls from some cohorts of the Republican party to scale back on payments.

It has put further pressure on the EU to scramble to approve its planned €50-billion fund for Ukraine, after Hungarian premier Viktor Orbán used his veto to block the proposal in December. Member states are currently preparing concessions to Orbán in the hopes of green-lighting the plan during an emergency summit on February 1.

Orban congratulated Trump on his sweeping victory in the Iowa caucus earlier on Monday.

But De Croo, whose government holds the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, warned that Europe’s future hinges on the war in Ukraine.

«For America and for other allies, the support for Ukraine is a strategic question, it is a geopolitical consideration. For us Europeans. the support to Ukraine is existential,» De Croo told the parliament. 

«It goes to the heart of our security and our prosperity,» he added.

Earlier this month, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton revealed that while serving as US President in 2020, Trump told European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen that the US would not help Europe if it was attacked.

«You need to understand that if Europe is under attack we will never come to help you and to support you,» Trump said during the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, according to Breton, adding that «by the way, NATO is dead.»

Trump’s warning came two years before Russia moved its troops into Ukraine, prompting the NATO alliance to provide unprecedented military and financial backing to Kyiv, and Finland and Sweden to break with their decades-long policy of neutrality to request to join the alliance’s ranks.

Officials in Brussels also fear that a Trump comeback could spell the end of a recent respite in EU-US trade tensions, and deliver a hit to Europe’s economy.

The Trump administration slapped tariffs on EU steel and aluminium entering the US in 2018, claiming the foreign-made products were a threat to national security. A truce agreed with the Biden administration to resolve the dispute was recently extended for a further 15 months.

Trump has vowed that if elected president in 2024 he will raise a 10% tax on all foreign imports, and even higher levies on products coming from China. 

Meanwhile, the states of Colorado and Maine have barred him from running for president for his role in the Capitol Hill riots in January 2021. Trump is expected to contest the decisions.

The former president’s comfortable lead over Republican rivals means he could still win without standing in these two states — but his frontrunner status could be challenged if other states follow Colorado and Maine’s lead.


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