Trump Is the Best Incentive for a Stronger Europe, France Says

(Bloomberg) -- Europe needs to bolster its unity to stave off international challenges, according to French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire. But the biggest reason for the European Union to come together? U.S. President Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump is the best incentive for a stronger Europe,” Le Maire said on Friday at a conference in Strbske Pleso, Slovakia. “Due to Donald Trump, Europe is stronger and aware of the necessity of being stronger and more integrated.”

Trump has targeted many allies, including the EU, in his “America First” drive to remake the global order in a way that he sees as being more fair to the U.S. Washington has levied tariffs on the bloc’s steel and aluminum exports in the name of national security, walked away from the Iran nuclear deal and threatened sanctions on European countries that continue to deal with Tehran. Trump in a July interview also labeled the EU a “foe,” along with Russia and China.

“Trump has decided to open a trade war,” said Le Maire, who included the ability to avoid American sanctions and being able to skirt trade conflicts as other reasons to establish greater European independence. “He thinks he will win. Nobody will win.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, in his last major policy speech, said the bloc should take steps to strengthen the international role of the euro to reduce the EU’s dependence on the U.S. and its currency.

“Together we have been able to face the challenge,” Le Maire said, referring to the trade war. “If there was no Europe, we would have been destroyed.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.