Truss was announced as the winner of the Conservative party leadership race on Monday afternoon, beating Rishi Sunak in a vote by party members.
Her victory, which means she becomes Britain’s next Prime Minister, was expected given her healthy lead in the polls.
Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz was one of the first leaders to react.
Scholz on Monday congratulated Truss on her victory and offered a stock response on how he sees cooperation between the UK and Germany.
“I am looking forward to our cooperation in these challenging times. The UK and Germany will continue to work closely together — as partners and friends,” Scholz said on Twitter.
European leaders hoping for more constructive post-Brexit relations with the UK will be wary of Truss as prime minister given she has frequently raised tensions with Brussels by demanding parts of the Brexit deal be renegotiated and threatened to provoke a trade war between the EU and the UK by triggering Article 16 of the Withdrawal Agreement.
The President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen was therefore understandably prudent in her response to the news.
“Congratulations Liz Truss. The EU and the UK are partners. We face many challenges together, from climate change to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. I look forward to a constructive relationship, in full respect of our agreements,” said Von der Leyen.
French leader Emmanuel Macron responded by tweeting, in English, his congratulations to the new prime minister on Monday night.
“Congratulations to Liz Truss on her election. The British people are our friends, the British nation is our ally. Let us continue working together to defend our shared interests,” said the French President on Twitter.
Macron recently played down comments from Truss, who had refused to say if the French leader was a “friend or foe” during a campaign event. He said the UK were friends “whoever its leaders were”.
Liz Truss to be new 🇬🇧 prime minister
Here’s hoping she’ll correct her absurd nonsense about 🇫🇷under Macron and work towards an urgent reset of relations with 🇫🇷, the UK's closest ally, security partner and fellow NATO member. The distrust under Johnson has been deeply damaging https://t.co/hBvSBK3VCN
— Sophie Pedder (@PedderSophie) September 5, 2022
Alexandre Holroyd, the French MP who represents French citizens living in the UK, also appeared to have those comments in mind when he tweeted: “After intemperate campaign declarations, it is time for responsibilities, especially the one of strengthening the friendship – historical and current – that unites our two countries and that is essential to our mutual security and prosperity.”
Media commentators across Europe have been making comparisons between Truss and former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
But instead of calling her the new “Iron Lady” (Dame de fer) French newspaper Les Echos referred to Truss as the Giroutte de Fer – in other words an “Iron Weathercock”, a reference to criticism that the new PM has changed her stance on issues to suit her quest for power. She was once a member of the Liberal Democrats party before switching to the Conservatives.
— Dr Matthew Fraser (@frasermatthew) September 5, 2022
Elsewhere in Europe there were more direct comparisons between Truss and Thatcher and references to huge job she has to get Britain through the current crisis, which some media blamed on her predecessor Boris Johnson.
Austria’s daily Kurier wrote “Like her role model Margaret Thatcher, the new Prime Minister preaches free market, less state and more patriotism.”
A story by Die Presse also mentioned that Truss was now facing her “big career goal”. It added that she would have to take action soon, especially regarding the energy crisis.
The newspaper highlighted that Truss’ government would essentially be a continuation of the Johnson years and noted that she, like the former PM, is a “convinced Brexit supporter”.
Much commentary focused around the job Truss has following in the footsteps of Boris Johnson given the country is facing a critical cost of living crisis with inflation and energy bills rising steeply. Many economists say the crisis has been worsened by Britain’s exit from the EU, which was directed by Johnson’s government.
An article in Norway’s Aftenposten simply said “Liz Truss must clear up Boris Johnson’s mess”.
Spain’s leading newspaper El Pais said Truss will continue the populist strategy of Johnson.
She will “promise citizens a rose-tinted future, without clarifying how she intends to achieve it”, the paper said.
Italy’s newspapers focused on the fact she’s the UK’s third female prime minister probably because Italy is about to get its first.
The headline in Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter read: “When Great Britain has big problems, a woman takes over” but the editorial by Katrine Marçal said “the expectations for Truss as a leader could scarcely be lower.”
Sweden’s Svenska Dagbladet headline pointed to the many problems facing the new Prime Minister. “Truss takes over: everything apart from Armageddon awaits”.