Von der Leyen in awkward silence as EU diplomats fail to applaud her

Von der Leyen left in awkward silence as EU diplomats fail to clap

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The European Commission President was met with a deafening silent during a speech. Ursula von der Leyen was welcoming Liz Truss’ decision to sit at the inaugural summit of the European Political Community (EPC) in Prague. But her praise fell flat, as diplomats failed to take the cue to applaud.

Speaking at the EPC summit, she said: “44 countries have come togetehr with a common agenda when it comes to European security, to the green and digital transition, to defending our democratic way of life. 

“We all share a common sense of purpose.”

Grinning from ear to ear, the EU chief continued: “And I was glad, I must say, that our British friends also decided to join – that’s good.”

The European Commission President then paused for five seconds, holding her breath. She threw a glance at the Prime Minister, with some sparks in her eyes.

But her pause failed to create the desired effect, as diplomats in the room stayed silent for at least five seconds.

Leaders from across Europe came together at a historic first meeting of a new political forum of nations to tackle issues like energy security and immigration.

The items on top of the agenda were migration and energy security amid Putin’s energy war – issues of particular interests to Britain which is grappling with soaring energy bills and left the bloc on the promise to halt immigration.

Despite her scepticism of the EU-led initiative, the British Prime Minister eventually decided to fly to the summit after the Conservative Conference in Birmingham and even offered to hold the next summit in London.

Liz Truss shut down talk of re-joining the EU during the two-day summit, telling broadcasters: “This is not about moving closer to Europe.

“This is about working with Europe on issues that we both face and both face rising energy costs, that’s why I took the decision to put in place the energy price guarantee so people in Britain weren’t facing bills of up to £6,000.”

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Ahead of the meeting, she made it clear it was “not an EU consruct or an EU alternative,” insisting the purpose of the EPC is to work with European countries to become more energy independent and tackle issues like migration and security.

The summit appears to have proved productive, with the Prime Minister announcing renewed plans with French President Emmanuel Macron on “ending” small boat crossings on the Channel. 

Liz Truss ended the famous “foe or friend” rift with her French counterpart over comments she made during the summer’s leadership campaign, saying Emmanuel Macron is a friend.

The next EPC summits are scheduled to be held in Moldova in the spring of 2023, in Spain at an undetermined date and the United Kingdom at a later date.

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