Mike Pence met EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker today
The EU Commission president told US Vice-President Mike Pence that now was not “the moment to divide the US and the EU” as the pair met for the first time to discuss trans-Atlantic relations.
He also emphasised the bloc’s economic importance to the US and specifically the Republican politician’s home state, Indiana, saying it was underestimated by some Americans.
Mr Juncker was met Donald Trump’s second-in-command minutes after his fellow EU chief Donald Tusk launched a blistering attack on the US President’s style of governnance.
Eurocrats and Mr Pence have both been keen to repair broken bridges, which have been smashed to an unprecedented extent following the billionaire tycoon’s shock election victory
Mr Juncker told the US Vice-President his country needs a 'strong EU'
Earlier Mr Pence met EU Council president Donald Tusk
Mr Trump has alarmed Brussels with a number of openly eurosceptic remarks, whilst EU leaders have shot back with a series of attacks which have further pushed relations into the deep freeze.
But addressing the press in Brussels today alongside the new US Vice-President, Mr Juncker said that the EU remained committed to working closely with Washington.
Speaking ahead of talks between the pair, he said: “I’m very grateful that he chose Europe for his first overseas trip.
“We will address all the issues which are common to Europe and which sometimes can give the impression that we’re raising divergencies."
I think the US needs a strong, united EU on all possible issues
He added: “I do not think that the moment has come to divide the US and the EU. We are partners for so many decades in the world.
“Global stability is heavily depending on good relations between the US and the EU.
“I think the US needs a strong, united EU on all possible issues.”
Mr Juncker seemingly contradicted remarks he made just three days ago regarding NATO, insisting that Europe would up its defence spending as requested by Mr Trump.
And he talked up the EU’s economic importance to America, adding: “The economic relations between our American friends and ourselves are of huge importance.
“The US economy is depending more than some in the US would think on the exchanges in volumes between the US and the EU.”
Blair and Juncker: Together through the years
Wed, January 25, 2017
Former Prime Minister, Tony Blair and President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker have always shared a friendly relationship over the years.
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EU Commission President Juncker greets former British PM Blair in Brussels
In a rallying cry for unity, he finished: “This is not a moment for Europe to divide itself in former national provincial capitals but to stand united when it comes to global issues.”
In a brief statement Mr Pence replied: “We have the opportunity to speak about issues of common interest and the determination of the US to continue to build on the cooperation and partnership with the European Community and the EU.”
The Vice-President has been on a charm offensive during his whistle-stop tour of Europe as he attempts to calm the nerves of EU leaders dismayed by the election of Mr Trump.
But his efforts have attracted a lukewarm reception from many, with Mr Tusk railing against the “brute force, egoism and arrogance” of the new White House administration.
Earlier today the French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault also expressed his anger after a speech Mr Pence made to the Munich Security Conference did not involve a single mention of the EU.