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11/12/2016

Donald Tusk invites Donald Trump to EU-US summit

Global Europe

Donald Tusk invites Donald Trump to EU-US summit

Donald Tusk [European Council]

The leaders of the main European institutions issued reactions to the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. In a letter, European Council President Donald Tusk invited Trump for an early summit to chart EU-US relations for the next four years.

As the dust settles following the surprising news of the election of Trump as US president, players on the EU scene issued a flurry of reactions. Tusk, who apart from sharing Trump’s first name, is Union’s equivalent ranking official, congratulated the president-elect today (9 November), with an invitation to visit Europe for an EU-US summit at his “earliest convenience”.

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Tusk, who is a former premier of Poland, a country with very strong bonds to the US, expressed “sincere congratulations” to the 45th president of the United States. In fact, the EU as a whole had a clear preference for Hillary Clinton to succeed Barack Obama, to ensure a continuity in relations at a time when the Ukraine conflict and the Syrian Civil War pose threats to the continent, when the Paris climate deal enters the implementation phase, and the TTIP trade agreement awaits conclusion.

“Today, it is more important than ever  to strengthen transatlantic relations. Only by cooperating closely can the EU and the US continue to make a difference when dealing with unprecedented challenges such as Da’esh, the threats to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, climate change and migration,” Tusk writes in the invitation letter, co-signed by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The European Parliament President Martin Schulz, who according to protocol doesn’t need to congratulate Tusk, issued instead a message “on the result of the US presidential elections”, addressed more to the European audience.

“Mr. Trump has managed to become the standard-bearer of the angst and fears of millions of Americans. Those concerns must now be addressed with credible policies and proposals”, Schulz writes.

“This campaign will not be remembered as America’s finest. Vitriol and polarisation have fuelled his electoral contest. President Trump will have the daunting task of bringing together a divided nation”, the Parliament president further says.

Referring to the conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and Libya, Schulz states that Trump’s role in diplomacy will be tested from day one.

“Global politics requires the continuous engagement of the US to make the world a better place to leave to our children. From the fight against global warming to its commitment to NATO, the world awaits and hopes for an outward-looking presidency aiming at shaping international relations and upholding the values of freedom and democracy,” Schulz says.

For her part, foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini tweeted that EU-US relations are “deeper than any change in politics”. “We’ll continue to work together, rediscovering the strength of Europe”, she said.

Manfred Weber, the leader of the group of the European Peoples’ Party (EPP), which is the largest in the European Parliament, commented on Twitter that the result of the US election was a wake-up call for Europe. Indeed, the EU hasn’t yet recovered from the shock of the Brexit referendum, while populists are challenging the mainstream parties in several member states, including France and Germany.

“We must consider the concerns of the people seriously and give concrete answers”, Weber tweeted.

Gianni Pittella, the leader of the Socialists & Democrats group, used much tougher language. He called Trump’s election “a sad day for the world”.

“Trump is the expression of a virus spreading across the US and Europe. EU should be the anti-body to this virus,”, he tweeted.

For his part, Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the liberal ALDE group, regretted the missed chance to have Hillary Clinton as first woman president of the United States. The former Belgian prime minister, who is the leading federalist in the European Parliament, said the EU needed to wake up, further unite and take charge of its own destiny.

Arguably, the first personality on the EU scene to congratulate Trump, well before the election results were announced, was Marine Le Pen, leader of the Front National in France and co-chair of the Europe of Nations and Freedom group in the European Parliament. Marine Le Pen is widely expected to make it to the 7 May runoff of the French presidential election.

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, tweeted that 2016 could be “the year of two big political revolutions”, referring to the Brexit referendum and the US election, which brought to the most powerful position in the world a firebrand populist without political experience.