One of Europe’s most senior politicians recounted how former U.S. President Donald Trump privately warned that America would not come to the EU’s aid if it was attacked militarily.
“You need to understand that if Europe is under attack we will never come to help you and to support you,” Trump told European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in 2020, according to French European Commissioner Thierry Breton, who was also present at a meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“By the way, NATO is dead, and we will leave, we will quit NATO,” Trump also said, according to Breton. “And he added, ‘and by the way, you owe me $400 billion, because you didn’t pay, you Germans, what you had to pay for defense,'” Breton said about the tense meeting, where the EU’s then-trade chief Phil Hogan was also present.
Breton told the anecdote at an event in the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday, just days before the Republican Party holds its January 15 caucus in Iowa, the opening contest in Trump’s bid to win the Republican nomination for a run at returning to the White House. Party members will cast their votes for candidates including Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who both trail way behind the ex-president in opinion polls.
Brussels is rife with fear about the possibility Trump will return to the U.S. presidency.
As the commissioner in charge of the EU’s industrial policy and defense agenda, Breton has pushed for the EU to boost its own self-defense capabilities amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, and on Tuesday floated a €100 billion fund to ramp up arms production in the bloc.
“That was a big wake-up call and he may come back,” Breton said about Trump. “So now more than ever, we know that we are on our own, of course. We are a member of NATO, almost all of us, of course we have allies, but we have no other options but to increase drastically this pillar in order to be ready [for] whatever happens.”