Democratic Party officials have expressed deep concerns about the future of EU-US relations in the event that Donald Trump wins the next American elections, sources from the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group in the European Parliament told euractiv.com.
In a mission in Philadelphia to attend the Democratic Party Convention, an S&D delegation led by the group’s President Gianni Pittella, Vice Presidents Knut Fleckenstein and Tanja Fajon, as well as Jeppe Kofod, held meetings with several US officials, including Bernie Sanders, Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright and the trade union leader Richard Trumka.
Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary against Senator Bernie Sanders and was formally nominated as the party’s candidate for US president last month.
An S&D source who participated in the meetings told EURACTIV that Democratic Party officials were “extremely worried” about the future transatlantic relations if Republican Donald Trump becomes the next US president.
Sanders: “A scary scenario”
In a meeting that lasted more than 30 minutes, the S&D source stressed that the MEPs held “an honest discussion” with Bernie Sanders about the US election and its impact on the EU.
“Sanders was very well informed about the EU situation and political developments,” the source explained.
The senator noted that a Trump presidency would be a “scary and a very difficult to handle scenario” for EU-US relations.
Sanders underlined that with Trump as president, the EU would not know what to expect, as his rhetoric is unpredictable.
“In diplomatic language one needs to think twice before saying something,” the S&D official commented.
Brexit and Tsipras
The Brexit vote came as a “huge surprise” for Sanders, who said that populism “takes advantage of peoples’ fears”.
The US senator asked MEPs many questions about the current situation in Greece.
“He left us an impression that he was positive towards Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ efforts to stabilise the country,” the S&D source noted.
In an op-ed published on EURACTIV, Gianni Pittella said that Europe had been “infected”.
“The virus of populism, racism, xenophobia has affected Europe. This virus in Europe is named Le Pen in France, Farage in Great Britain, Orban in Hungary, 5 Star Movement in Italy, Kaczynski in Poland,” he stressed.
American officials admitted that the same “virus” exists in the US as well but with a “different mix”.
Democratic Party officials were very cautious regarding the ultimate outcome of the election and did not speak about an “open victory” but instead stressed that it would be a “neck-and-neck” race.
A key question in the election is how Sanders’ supporters will vote.
“We felt that in Sanders’ camp, some dislike Clinton more than Trump”, the S&D source explained.
Sanders officially backed Clinton last month.
“I support Hillary Clinton. So should everyone who voted for me,” he wrote in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times last week. Sanders recognised that many of his supporters were disappointed by the final results of the nominating process.
“But being despondent and inactive is not going to improve anything. Going forward and continuing the struggle is what matters. And, in that struggle, the most immediate task we face is to defeat Donald Trump,” he wrote.
Breaking with tradition, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) recently said it was reluctant to support Republican candidate Donald Trump in the US presidential race because of his rejection of strong ties with the EU.
Asked to comment on the EPP’s stance, the S&D official stressed that it was a “clear proof that Trump is dangerous not only for Europe but for the whole world”.
One day before the Democratic Convention, Pittella, the S&D chief, also met with Italian-American communities and urged them to campaign for Hillary Clinton.