The great and the good of this world met in Davos this week to tell each other how wonderful they are. But amid all the bonhomie and back-slapping there loomed the spectre of You-Know-Who.
Donald Trump’s landslide victory in the Iowa caucuses was his first significant step towards a second term in the White House. His first was bad enough for the Davos set, but the possibility that Trump and his Deplorables might triumph in November is too much for many to bear.
Last week, Christine Lagarde, head of the European Central Bank, described Trump as ‘clearly a threat’ to Europe because his ideas on the environment and trade are out of sync with their own. Her views were echoed this week at Davos by Philipp Hildebrand, an influential Swiss financier, who declared that four more years of Trump ‘would challenge Europe fundamentally’.
When Joe Biden was elected president in 2020, the sigh of relief from Brussels could be heard on Capitol Hill. ‘The inauguration of Joe Biden opens a welcome new chapter in EU-US relations,’ simpered the EU. ‘There is much to repair and rebuild, both at home and abroad. But this is above all a moment of opportunity. We as EU are ready to revive our partnership.’
But Sleepy Joe wasn’t. In 2022, a furious EU accused the US of ‘profiting’ from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by selling gas at exorbitant prices. There have also been disagreements about how to deal with China and Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which French president Emmanuel Macron described as ‘super aggressive’ to French and European companies.
Biden may be a profiteer and a protectionist. But he is – or at least the people who run his administration are – also a progressive, and that will always make him far more palatable to Davos than The Donald.