Joe Biden,
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden

European Union leaders Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen hailed Joe Biden’s election as president of the United States on Saturday and called for stronger transatlantic ties.

“I warmly congratulate Mr Joe Biden on his victory in the US presidential election and look forward to meeting him at the earliest possible opportunity,” European Commission president von der Leyen said.

“The European Union and the United States are friends and allies, our citizens share the deepest of links,” she said.

“Together we have built an unprecedented transatlantic partnership rooted in common history and shared values of democracy, freedom, human rights, social justice and open economy.

“This partnership has underpinned the liberal rules-based international order for decades and remains a pillar of stability, security and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic.”

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Michel, who as president of the European Council represents the leaders of EU member states — not all of whom have acknowledged Biden’s victory — also tweeted his “congratulations”, but was more cautious.

“We take note of the latest development in the electoral process,” he said, after US news networks reported a Biden victory and the Democratic Party candidate and former vice president claimed the win.

“On this basis the EU congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on reaching enough Electoral Votes.”

Ties with the incumbent US leader, President Donald Trump, have been tense, with Brussels and Washington a loggerheads over trade, digital taxation, the Paris climate accords and the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump’s outspoken style also ruffled European feathers.

The European Commission’s representative in Vienna, the influential former chief Brussels bureaucrat Martin Selmayr remarked on Twitter that: “In the future, differences will no longer be settled on Twitter.”

A senior European official told reporters that Michel had coordinated in recent weeks to prepare for a number of US scenarios and on Saturday leaders had agreed to react simultaneously at 7.00pm (1800 GMT).

They agreed, he said, “to congratulate the president elect and the vice president elect following the result in Pennsylvania, while showing respect for the electoral process”.

Influential EU leaders President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel did stick to this line and the timing of the announcement, as did most senior Brussels officials.

But at least one EU leader, Slovenia’s Prime Minister Janez Jansa, expressed concern, noting that the US result is not yet official and that Trump is planning legal complaints about the process.


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