WASHINGTON - EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says U.S. President-elect Donald Trump poses risks for the relationship between the European Union and the United States.
Speaking to students at a conference in Luxemburg late Friday, Juncker said Trump must get up to speed on how Europe works in order to avoid “two years of wasted time” when he assumes the presidency in January.
“Generally speaking,” Juncker said, “the political class and the U.S. in general take no interest at all in Europe. Mr. Trump has said during his campaign — I was just telling this to our president here — that Belgium is a little village in Europe. It’s spot on if you look from very far, but it does not reflect the reality. So we have to teach the president-elect what Europe really is and how Europe works.”
Juncker reminded his audience that Trump had called NATO into question, which could have “harmful consequences” because it is the model of Europe’s defense.
“He called into question the Trans-Atlantic Alliance, which is actually quite pernicious, and so he questions the model of the defense of Europe,” Juncker said. “With regards to refugees and non-American whites, Trump has an approach which in no way coincides with the convictions and feelings in Europe. I think that we will waste two years before Mr. Trump gets to know the parts of the world he is unaware of.”
Juncker’s blunt remarks reflected the shock and concern among some European leaders at the election of Trump, who has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, among other statements, and questioned the principle of collective defense in NATO.
During the U.S. election campaign, candidate Trump was also a vocal critic of the open border migration policies of some EU nations.
Juncker's comments contrasted with the more diplomatic reactions of other European leaders, who have said they look forward to working with the next Republican president.
On Wednesday, after Trump’s victory over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk invited him to an EU-U.S. summit to discuss issues including terrorism and Ukraine.