Brussels Viewpoint – US president Donald Trump meets Von der Leyen

epa08148105 A handout photo made available by the EU Commission shows European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (L) meeting US President Donald Trump during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum 2020 in Davos, Switzerland, 21 January 2020. The meeting brings together entrepreneurs, scientists, corporate and political leaders in Davos from January 21 to 24. EPA-EFE/STEFAN WERMUTH HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

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The big news this week takes us to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, where US President Donald Trump met EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen for the first time.

Von der Leyen became EC president only a few months ago, after the term of Jean-Claude Juncker came to an end.

The new president of the European Commission appeared quite optimistic on negotiating a trade deal with the Trump administration following the meeting. Ursula von der Leyen, who met with Trump in Davos this week, said that Brussels wants a deal “in a few weeks’ time that concludes these issues.”

Trump also said he has a “very specific date” in mind for reaching a pact, though he declined to share. Asked if the deadline would come before November’s election, Trump replied: “I think we’ll have a deal before.”

But Trump’s address to the Davos summit really shed light on the way European bureacrats view him. He spoke to the audience in Switzerland, unsurprisingly, as though he was still in campaign mode, addressing the international crowd as though he was delivering a speech in a town in the US. He focused on the US’ success for the working class and of spearheading an economic boom “the likes of which the world had never seen before”.

Then, he switched into a very deliberate message about the climate change movement. He cast it as a movement full of pessimists, saying: “In America, we understand what pessimists refuse to see… To see the opportunities of tomorrow we must reject the perennial prophets of doom”. He also cast them as people who were against technology and progress.

He did make reference to protecting the planet, talking about its natural beauty and referring to it as “God’s planet”. However, he did cast the debate as us versus them, which is possibly, not very constructive to strengthening the debate.

Many of the people in the audience were very responsive to him- and it seems like he made a hit! It still remains to be seen how US and EU relations will continue regarding trade, but his popularity as an outlandish character does not seem to be shrinking.

This article appeared first on the Diplomatique.Expert eJournal.

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