Trump’s allegiance with Putin risks undoing Reagan’s EU integration legacy, says ex-Italy PM

Reporting by Willem Marx, Writing by Karen Gilchrist
President Ronald Reagan campaigns in Orange County California during his 1984 re-election campaign.
Dirck Halstead | Getty Images

U.S. President Donald Trump's anti-EU stance and increasingly warm relations with Russia risk undermining one of the great legacies of his closest political counter-part, Ronald Reagan, the former Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Monti, has said.

The incumbent U.S. president's non-political background and pro-market policies have famously drawn parallels with those of his predecessor President Ronald Reagan, but the likeness stops with Europe, Monti told CNBC, suggesting that Trump risks destabilizing Reagan's hard-fought EU stabilization project.

"Trump's attitude towards the EU has been totally unprecedented – reminiscent only of President Reagan's attitude, except that it is totally opposed to that," Monti said Friday.

President Reagan is considered to have been instrumental in working with the European Union in the 1980s to bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union and freeing Eastern European nations from occupation.

An employee polishes traditional Russian wooden nesting dolls, Matryoshka dolls, depicting US President-elect Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a gift shop in central Moscow.
Alexander Nemenov | AFP | Getty Images

"President Trump, for some reason, seems to want to leverage on the air of the Soviet Union and President Putin, and to work with him in order to undermine European integration and perhaps disintegrate the European Union.

"It's a curious reversal of projects by two presidents from the same party and with apparently similar personalities," Monti, a former European commissioner, said.

Nonetheless, it would not be unheard of for the president to change his stance, noted Monti, and while he is not the greatest fan of the European project "yet", there is still scope for common sense to prevail.

"I think we have seen in the past few days and weeks a beginning of a readiness of President Trump to consider some departures from his promised electoral line.

"Not a betrayal of the electorate, but a pragmatic approach to real life. I would expect more of that to come."

Correction: This story has been updated to accurately reflect the former occupations of Mario Monti.

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