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EU president declares ‘Europe has a friend in the White House’ after Joe Biden is sworn in

Screen grab of European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen during a media briefing in Brussels - Credit: PA

EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen has said Joe Biden’s inauguration represents a new chapter in transatlantic cooperation, adding that Europe finally “has a friend in the White House”.

Von der Leyen said that “after four long years”, Europe could now breath a sigh of relief and begin patching up an alliance that came under considerable strain during the Trump administration.

“This new dawn in America is the moment we’ve been waiting for so long,” said in a speech in Brussels. “Europe is ready for a new start with our oldest and most trusted partner.”

She praised US president Joe Biden for rejoining the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and said Europe looked forward to closer cooperation on tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, said Biden’s inauguration represented “victory of democracy over the ultra-right”.

Taking aim at Donald Trump, he said: “Five years ago, we thought Trump was a bad joke, but five years later we realised he jeopardized nothing less than the world’s most powerful democracy.”

German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was “greatly relieved”.

“Despite all the joy we feel today, we must not forget that even the most powerful democracy in the world has been seduced by populism,” he said as Biden prepared to be sworn in.

“We must work resolutely to counter polarization, protect and strengthen the public square in our democracies, and shape our policies on the basis of reason and facts”.

French president Emmanuel Macron called it a “significant day for the American people” and said his country was ready to work “together” with the new administration.

He tweeted: “We will be stronger to face the challenges of our time. Stronger to build our future. Stronger to protect our planet.”

Boris Johnson congratulated vice president Kamala Harris “on her historic inauguration” and said that “America’s leadership is vital on the issues that matter to us all, from climate change to COVID, and I look forward to working with president Biden.”

Even America’s rival also joined in the celebrating, striking a more sombre tone.

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani urged the incoming administration to return to a 2015 nuclear agreement and lift sanctions on Tehran, while welcoming the end of “tyrant” president Donald Trump’s era.

China hoped the new administration would push “relation back to the right track as soon as possible”.