The European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator says Donald Trump poses a serious threat to the EU because he is working with far-right groups on the continent to engineer the bloc’s disintegration.
Guy Verhofstadt said that the EU has “fewer friends than ever in the United States today”.
He said President Trump and his advisers had joined with European far-right movements in “undermining the EU”.
Mr Trump himself had spoken “very favourably of the fact that other countries will want to break away” from the 28-member bloc after the UK.
Mr Verhofstadt says Mr Trump is one of three threats facing the EU, along with radicalised political Islam and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mr Putin, he says, is trying to undermine the EU with cyber-attacks and financing anti-European far-right political parties, including the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands and France’s National Front.
Referring to Brexit, Mr Verhofstadt said Mr Trump has, under the “enormous political influence of his chief political adviser Steve Bannon, sent people to Berlin and Paris to prepare the ground for similar referenda.
Asked about what he referred to as Trump’s “anti-Muslim” policy to ban refugees and citizens of selected Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, Mr Verhofstadt said Mr Trump has been influenced by the European far-right rather than the other way round.
He added: “We invented nationalism in the 19th century in Europe but we apparently have forgotten what disaster, what atrocities that so-called national identity thinking and nationalism has created in Europe.
“The problem is not national identity itself, it’s when national identity is based on ethnicity and not values, that the problems start in Europe.
“Twenty million people have died because of nationalism in Europe.
“So putting your political thinking and the future organisation of Europe on nationalist ideas is the most stupid thing that you can do. It’s playing with fire, knowing what it has created in the past.”