EU's Borrell welcomes U.S. president 'who doesn't consider us a foe'

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union’s foreign policy chief on Monday extolled Joe Biden’s victory in the U.S. election and, in a swipe at outgoing President Donald Trump, welcomed “the chance to work once again with a U.S. president who doesn’t consider us a foe”.

FILE PHOTO: EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell attends a plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Pool

Josep Borrell said in a blog that it was diplomatic practice to avoid expressions of political preference, but there was no mistaking his delight at the outcome of last week’s election.

“It is no secret that the past four years have been complicated in terms of EU-US relations,” he wrote.

“They were marked by numerous policy disagreements. And we even saw some of the principles that we considered as the bedrock of the transatlantic partnership being eroded, and sometimes even emptied of their substance.”

Borrell welcomed President-elect Biden’s stated commitment to restoring unity and respect for democratic norms and institutions, and his assurances that he would work with allies in a spirit of partnership.

“We have a long history of working together based on shared values,” he said. “So, we welcome the chance to work once again with a US President who doesn’t consider us a ‘foe’ or believes the EU has been ‘set up to take advantage of the U.S.’.”

From his support for Britain’s departure from the bloc to a brief downgrade of the EU’s status in Washington, Trump’s disdain for Brussels and his withdrawal from agreements backed by the EU soured ties between the traditional allies.

Many in Europe hoped the election would bring a new president and, with it, a shift in U.S. policy on issues from climate to trade, NATO and the Iran nuclear deal.

Borrell said Europe should support Washington’s “return to the table” on the Paris climate agreement, Iran and the World Health Organization, and a constructive stance on bilateral trade and the World Trade Organization’s dispute settlement system.

He said Europe hoped the Biden administration would be “solid in its commitment” to the NATO defence alliance but acknowledged that Europe needed to “up its game” and take more responsibility for its own security.

Borrell said the EU would reach out to the Biden team in the coming weeks, but needed to be aware that its priorities would be to handle the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences and to heal America’s “enormous divisions”.

He said Biden’s room for manoeuvre in foreign policy may also be limited by a Republican-controlled Senate.

Reporting by John Chalmers; Editing by Mike Collett-White