"Europe can no longer rely on the U.S. for its security"

The Belgian PM Charles Michel advocates a stronger European Union in the area of defence. "It is no longer possible to rely just on the United States for our own security", he told the VRT's Sunday morning news show 'De Zevende Dag'. Michel also called Donald Trump a "strange candidate".

The upcoming American defence policies are triggering concerns among other NATO members. Will they have to contribute more? Trump repeatedly said that other members should do more than they are doing now. Michel understands the criticism. "In Europe, we haven't seen enough investements in defence over the past decades. And it's not just Belgium, in this respect. But the will is there to do more."

Doing more is one thing, but how? Michel hinted that it could be about a better cooperation on the European level. "A stronger Europe on defence issues is more crucial than ever. Everyone understands that it is no longer possible to count just on the U.S. for our safety. The Brexit and the American vote has raised this awareness among an increasing number of European leaders."

"A strange candidate"

Michel hasn't had contact with Donald Trump yet. But the PM does have a clear opinion on his campaign. "Trump was a strange candidate. He chose simplistic and populist talk and had hard words for Belgium (he called Brussels a hell hole, red.) I don't share his image of the world."

It's not the first time Michel is criticising Trump. Speaking at the Belgian-American Chamber of Commerce in New York (in September), Michel told his audience: "Ladies and gentlemen, I keep forgetting his name, but there is a presidential candidate who called Brussels a hell hole. He wanted to be here tonight, but we withdrew his invitation."

Looking back upon this, Michel says: "I defend our country. His language was very rough. I tried to respond with a touch of humour, which is what Belgium is known for."