“If Potus leaves here with the idea that the EU is in some way useful, that’s it. Job done.”
The words of a trusted European source when I asked about EU expectations for Donald Trump’s first trip to Brussels as US president.
Not a far-reaching ambition, I think you’d agree.
But the EU is nervous. Very nervous.
For Brussels and for Nato whose new headquarters Mr Trump will also visit, this trip is about damage limitation with the fervent hope of establishing some kind of transatlantic chemistry.
The tone in Brussels has gone from off-the-record sneering when the erratic and unpredictable Mr Trump first won the November elections, to outright concern now that the implications of his presidency have begun to sink in.
Just to be clear, the European Union does not believe the US president will come here Brexit-cheering, predicting the break-up of the EU or calling Brussels a hell-hole as he has in the past.
That was Trump on the stump.
That rhetoric has improved after a rocky presidential start – the US president has now described Belgium as a “beautiful city” which may not be geographically accurate, but at least it was complimentary in sentiment. He also changed his initial dismissal of Nato as an “obsolete” organisation to being “no longer obsolete”.