European Union leaders congratulated Rishi Sunak on his official appointment as British Prime Minister on Tuesday. They hope for good cooperation in difficult times and urge Downing Street to comply with the Brexit agreements.
“In these difficult times for our continent, we are counting on a solid relationship with the United Kingdom to defend our common values, with full respect for our agreements,” tweeted European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Von der Leyen refers to the European Union’s divorce agreement with the United Kingdom. Under former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the United Kingdom refused to implement trade agreements about Northern Ireland properly. Liz Truss, who succeeded Johnson in September, is the architect of a bill that would make it possible to cancel parts of this so-called Northern Ireland protocol unilaterally.
The Commission has already launched seven infringement procedures. However, she remains willing to talk to the UK. “A positive relationship between the EU and the UK is strategically important. In full respect of our agreements, I remain committed to working intensively and constructively to foster such a partnership. That includes our work for joint solutions under the protocol,” said Vice-President Maros Sefcovic, who is responsible for relations with the UK.
Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin, a key voice in the negotiations over Northern Ireland, had already congratulated Sunak on Monday evening on his election as the new leader of the British Conservative party. He expressed the hope of working together on “the important issues facing us globally and on these islands”.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz looks forward to “continuing our cooperation and partnership in NATO and the G7 as close friends” with Sunak. Finally, the new Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, shows his willingness “to work together on common challenges and to defend our common values of freedom and democracy”.