The EU has called on the new British prime minister, Liz Truss, to have a broader view of Britain’s relationship with Europe while urging her to respect the Brexit agreement.
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, tweeted her congratulations and mentioned shared challenges like climate change and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Von der Leyen is anticipated to call Truss in the coming days.
She said: “I look forward to a constructive relationship, in full respect of our agreements.”
Maroš Šefčovič, the EU’s top official in charge of relations with the UK, said a positive relationship between the two was of great strategic importance. “I stand ready to work intensively and constructively with my new UK interlocutor to foster such a partnership, in full respect of our agreements,” the Guardian reported.
A few weeks after Truss told Tory members at a hustings event in August that she was unsure whether he was “friend or foe,” the French president, Emmanuel Macron, praised Truss and said that “the British nation is our ally.”
“Congratulations to Liz Truss on her election,” Macron tweeted. “The British people are our friends, the British nation is our ally. Let us continue working together to defend our shared interests.”
Behind the scenes, EU officials are not optimistic that their relationship will improve with Truss, the author of a measure that would nullify important provisions of the Northern Ireland protocol and possibly ignite a trade conflict.
The hope on this side is for things to get better and for there to be a more positive relationship, but no one is holding their breath, according to an EU ambassador.
The diplomat opined that Truss’s reliance on euroskeptic Conservative parliamentary party members did not augur well for her capacity to reach agreements.
They added: “Looking at where Liz Truss got her support I don’t really expect her to have that much room for manoeuvre. But I would gladly be proved wrong.”
Once in position at No. 10, sources anticipate that Truss will approach EU ties differently.
“Obviously the reservations that were there beforehand remain given that she was the foreign secretary that brought through the [Northern Ireland] bill before the summer,” one EU diplomat said. “From an EU perspective, there is always a window of opportunity with the new prime minister, because the EU will be open to talks and negotiations.”
When Truss is invited to attend a summit of European leaders in October, her willingness to cooperate with the EU will be put to the test. Truss will become prime minister on Tuesday. She will be asked to speak about the establishment of the European Political Community, a pan-European organisation tasked with fostering security and other ties between the European nations.
In Moscow, Truss is best known for her meeting with Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia, in February. Lavrov expressed displeasure with her contributions, calling them “simply slogans yelled from the tribunes.”