For Europe’s leaders, it’s personal.Whatever the warm words and backslapping for the U.S. president at NATO Wednesday, for Europe’s chancellors, prime ministers and presidents Donald Trump poses a clear and present danger to their job security.In the world of politics, this — above all — is the one unforgivable sin.
According to senior EU government officials and diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of Trump’s visit to the U.K. Thursday, the rot at the heart of the Western Alliance is not the lack of “spark” between Trump and Theresa May, nor even his apparently visceral loathing of Angela Merkel.
Boil it down and Trump represents everything his most important transatlantic allies have been forced to define themselves against, whether at home or in Europe at large.
“Fundamentally, what unites May, Macron, Merkel and Trump?” asked one senior U.K. aide, when asked what lies at the heart of the U.S. president’s up-and-down relationships with his allies. “In one way or another they are all defined by their relationship with populism.”
For Emmanuel Macron, this can be a bonus. Like Trump, he is a political alpha male who rose to power on a wave of anti-establishment fury.