Trump Is Europe's Biggest Challenge and 'Prays for the Breakup of the Union', EU Council President Says

European Union Council President Donald Tusk has identified his namesake President Donald Trump as the greatest challenge facing the European Union, as the bloc grapples with Brexit and Eurosceptic populist parties across the continent.

Speaking with German newspaper Die Zeit, Tusk—whose term ends at the end of this month—said the U.S. president is actively undermining the EU and hoping for it to fail, Reuters reported.

Tusk told Die Zeit that Trump's continued antagonism was unprecedented for a U.S. president towards the European Union. "For the first time in history, there is an American president who is openly against a united Europe," the former Polish prime minister explained.

"He supports Brexit and prays for the breakup of the Union," Tusk added, describing the president as "perhaps the most difficult challenge" for the EU.

Trump has repeatedly maligned the EU, describing the bloc as a "foe" when asked who he considered America's adversaries. Trump said this was because of "what they do to us in trade. Now you wouldn't think of the European Union but they're a foe." The president went on to list more traditional rivals like China and Russia.

The president has also publicly supported Brexit and urged former British Prime Minister Theresa May to take a tougher negotiating line with Brussels, even suggesting she sue the EU.

Trump has regularly attacked key EU states like Germany and France for perceived lethargy regarding NATO, while also condemning French President Emmanual Macron's "very insulting" suggestion that EU members should work together to create a unified military.

Trump will be traveling to London next week for a NATO leaders event, where he will meet with the EU's most influential leaders. The visit comes at a tricky time for its British hosts, with the U.K. plunged headlong into an election campaign ahead of a December 12 poll.

The election could bring some much-needed clarity to Britain's tortuous departure from the EU. The British parliament has been paralyzed by efforts to pass a withdrawal deal, and the Brexit process has already claimed two prime ministers.

The other EU states have been left frustrated and bemused as British politics tears itself apart. Meanwhile, the EU has handed the U.K. multiple deadline extensions in the hope of avoiding a chaotic "no-deal Brexit."

Should Trump repeat his past pro-Brexit, anti-European sentiments next week, it could further inflame an already tense situation.

British opposition parties have sought to bolster support by casting pro-Brexit Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a Trump ally. The more progressive parties hope to use the president's unpopularity among Brits as a stick to beat the Conservative government.

Donald Tusk, Donald Trump, EU, pray, challenge
President of the European Council Donald Tusk speaks during a press conference on March 22, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. Jack Taylor/Getty Images/Getty