WASHINGTON (AP) — A top European Union official on Monday expressed unease over the election of Donald Trump, saying it undermined democratic values and gave rise to populist ideas in the United States and in Europe.
Pierre Moscovici, European commissioner for economic and financial affairs, said in a speech at Harvard University that Trump's win last week was a "political wake-up call" for both continents.
"As a citizen, I have to confess I was surprised, that is an understatement, at last week's result, as were many Europeans and no doubt many of you here," Moscovici said.
The EU official spoke as President Barack Obama was preparing to leave on a tour to Greece, Germany and Peru to try to calm world leaders and strategize about what happens on the world stage when he leaves office.
Contrary to most expert predictions, Trump beat the democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The billionaire magnate capitalized on many voters' economic anxieties, took advantage of racial tensions and overcame a string of sexual assault allegations on his way to the White House.
"I am a politician, as you recall, also a Social Democrat and I want to share with you my worries when I see democrats and our shared values losing ground on both sides of the Atlantic," Moscovici said. "There is populism here, but there is populism also in my home country, France and also all around Europe."
Moscovici said that Europe will be closely watching what kind of President Trump will turn out to be and whether he will carry out many of his controversial campaign promises. "'We must remain open-minded, but we also need to remain vigilant."
Moscovici questioned Trump's campaign statement that the United States may abandon its NATO commitments, unless other members increase their contributions to the military alliance. Those statements caused anxiety in Eastern Europe against the backdrop of Russia's annexation of Crimea and its support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.
"I don't think it is serious," Moscovici said. "I cannot accept that the USA withdraws so much from their responsibilities as a global partner, a key player in the framework of NATO."
At the same time, Moscovici expressed confidence that whatever the next American leader does, US-European ties should remain strong.
"I am confident that the U.S. will continue to be a strong and reliable partner for us. That partnership is quite simply an absolute necessity," he said.