Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s spokesperson’s service gave muddled accounts of the first trans-Atlantic conversation between their boss and America’s new leadership.
US President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence published on Monday (12 December) a statement mentioning a telephone conversation with Juncker.
European Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein on Tuesday (13 December) demurred when asked whether Juncker spoke to the president-elect or his deputy.
“It’s clear there are a lot of subjects in common that the leaders could discuss in common,” said Winterstein.
“I won’t go into detail, but I can tell you the president was in contact with the new leaders in the United States.”
Trump did not speak to the head of the European Commission after his election, but instead left the job to his deputy, officials told AFP Tuesday (13 December).
Vice President-elect Mike Pence spoke to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on 7 December, according to a presidential transition source.
Juncker, the outspoken former leader of Luxembourg, previously described Trump’s election campaign as “absolutely disgusting”.
“It was not American democracy’s hour of glory,” he said.
Trump’s delegation of the call could be seen as a diplomatic slight in Europe, where there are already jitters about Trump’s commitment to the transatlantic alliance ahead of his January 20 inauguration.
Trump himself has called Brussels a “hellhole”, offending the citizens of the capital of Belgium, which is also the capital of the EU.
Juncker may not be a household name around the world, but he runs the bureaucracy tasked with writing legislation that spans the entire European Union and impacts globally, including on major US companies such as Microsoft, Google or Apple.
Together with Council President Donald Tusk, Juncker invited Trump following his election for an early summit to chart EU-US relations for the next four years.