Tale of two Donalds: Trump gives Europe splitting headache

“The French … are as usual saying ‘It’s just the European Union now; there’s no such thing as the West’,” said a senior eastern European diplomat, criticizing Paris’s view.

“The Germans are much more cautious. There is a clear issue to be decided on whether we should seek a common ground to engage with the United States, or turn our backs.”

As EU leaders prepare to map out a post-Brexit strategy at a 60th anniversary summit in Rome next month, French President Francois Hollande criticized Trump and eastern European governments he accused of raking in EU subsidies but then breaking ranks and undermining the bloc by seeking special favor from Washington.

Many in the east are especially alarmed by Trump’s warmer tone toward Russia but some back his entry ban on Muslims, which echoes their own criticisms of EU refugee policies.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel took a less confrontational tone but stressed the need for “multilateralism” – a prod to Trump not to try and circumvent the EU by talking only to national leaders, and to Europeans to speak with a single voice.

Whether “the other Donald” gets that message is another matter, given a seemingly hazy grasp on who is who in Brussels.

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