Timmermans amazed by Trump’s desire for a divided Europe

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On Monday United States president elec. Donald Trump said that he does not much care whether the European Union is divided or united, in interviews with newspapers Bild and The Times. He also called on other countries to follow Britain's example with the Brexit. European Commissioner Frans Timmermans read these statements with amazement. "We have never seen a U.S. president show interest in a divided Europe." he said to broadcaster NOS.

In the past American presidents all supported a united EU. After the fall of the Berlin wall there were even demands for rapid reunification and a larger EU, according to the Dutch broadcaster. Trump seems to be ignoring this policy. 

Despite this, Timmermans is not overly concerned. He points out that Trump's image of the EU is mainly based on Nigel Farage - a British politician who was a driving force behind the Brexit campaign. "Trump is a smart man. When he later talks with [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel, whom he admires, he will see things differently." he said, adding that the relationship between the EU and U.S. does not depend on one person. "Our relationships are deeper, are centuries old and thus consistent. Also look at the hearings of new ministers in Congress. There a strong sense of responsibility is spoken. They recognize the threat from Russia."

Trump's tone is definitely different than his predecessors, Timmermans acknowledges. "It is clear that this will not be a president who hides his feelings, which we aren't used to. You now see many European capitals in waiting mode. First seeing what comes", he said.

"I understand the sentiment behind Trump's statements", Trump said pointing to globalization and the many jobs lost through it. "He strikes a chord in me when it comes to people who have been left behind. Both in the U.S. and in Europe people ask for more protection. They do not feel protected in a world that is changing hard and rapidly due to globalization." Though he does not agree with Trump's solution. "Protectionism does not protect, but rather destroys jobs."