President Trump hasn't been shy to voice his complaints with the European Union.
Since taking office, the American president has chastised NATO allies for not paying their fair share, accused the EU of being "very protectionist" and announced the U.S.' withdrawal from the globally-endorsed Paris climate agreement.
But Trump's bullying could turn out to be exactly what a fractured European Union (EU) needed in order to band closer together. His attacks on the European Union's shared policies – like climate change, free trade and defense – have forced EU countries to jointly defend their goals and strengthen ties with other global allies.
"He has indirectly vindicated the entire European approach," Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics told CNBC via phone earlier this month.
Kirkegaard said last month's G20 meetings in Hamburg exhibited how countries can more effectively solve real-world economic problems when they join together, which is the fundamental ideology behind the EU. Trump's "America first" philosophy was on full display at the summit when 19 countries endorsed the Paris climate accord – leaving the U.S. behind on the world stage.
"What it shows is that no country is independently able to, shall we say, change or undermine the global economic and financial system," Kirkegaard said.
European leaders feared President Trump's election and the U.K.'s vote to leave the EU would spur a wave of nationalist victories across the continent. But voters rejected populist candidates who aligned themselves with the American president in elections in Austria, the Netherlands and France. France's Emmanuel Macron rode a huge victory over his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen on a pro-EU message.