The European Union's lead Brexit negotiator minced no words in discussing the imminent threats facing his bloc.
“We have a third front, for the moment, undermining the European Union, and it is Donald Trump,” Guy Verhofstadt said in a speech Monday at the Chatham House think tank in London.
The other two fronts? Vladimir Putin and the Islamic State.
Interestingly, given that Verhofstadt is tasked with preventing Brexit from pulling the E.U. apart, he did not name Brexit as one of the fronts. But he may have been using Trump as a proxy for the type of political ideology that inspired Brexit.
“Trump spoke very favorably of the fact that also other countries will want to break away from the European Union, and that he hoped for a disintegration of the European Union,” he said. “A disintegration of the union would be a disaster … not only for Europe but also I think for our allies and for the world.”
Trump has championed Brexit as a “great thing,” and the first foreign politician he met after his election was Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage. His election has stoked fears that the E.U. is indeed on thin ice, as it may lose the support of its biggest ally.
Trump has repeatedly praised the leadership of Russian president Putin, who shares his skepticism about the underpinnings of the internationalist, bloc-style system that gave birth to the E.U. Trump and Putin are the global figureheads of a fervent isolationism and nationalism that has also gained steam in E.U. member states such as France, Austria and Hungary — and of course, in its former member state, the United Kingdom.
On top of Trump and Putin's antagonism and a spate of ISIS-inspired attacks, a slew of national elections across E.U. member states in 2017 will put the bloc's longevity to the ultimate test.