US eyes ‘reset’ to EU ties, says envoy Gordon Sondland

The US is confident of a reset in transatlantic relations when a new EU leadership takes office later this year, Washington’s top envoy to Brussels said on Tuesday.

US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland told reporters that a series of meetings this week between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the EU’s incoming top officials went “extraordinarily well”.

US and Europe have been caught up in a series of feuds over trade, Brexit, ties with Iran and climate change that Europe blames on the go-it-alone diplomacy of President Donald Trump.

“The secretary made this trip solely and exclusively to see the four EU leaders with the objective of resetting our relationship,” Sondland said after Pompeo’s meetings.

“Our relationship had reached multiple impasses on multiple fronts and resulted in a lot of uncomfortable, cranky conversations,” he said.

Pompeo met Ursula von der Leyen, who will become president of the Commission, the EU’s incoming foreign policy supremo, Josep Borrell of Spain and Belgium’s prime minister Charles Michel, who will take over as EU Council President.

He also met with Italy’s David Sassoli, the new head of the EU’s parliament.

“Everyone got up from the meetings feeling very omistic about the future,” Sondland said.

The envoy minimised differences between the US and EU, saying that Europeans only differed with Washington on tactics, and not on the substance of issues.

“We are in violent agreement with what they want to accomplish, we don’t agree on how to get there,” Sondland said, refusing to be drawn further on specifics.

“Some of whom we have interacted in the past, and I am not going to pick out certain people, have been so preoccupied with the tactics,” he added.

Pompeo’s goodwill visit to Brussels came as Trump on twitter repeated his accusations that the EU was unfair with the US on trade.

This “will change!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.