In Berlin, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, congratulated Obama on his
"historic victory".

EU optimism

Jose Manuel Barroso, the European commission president, looked to Obama to help end the global financial crisis, which first surfaced in the United States.

"This is a time for a renewed commitment between Europe and the United States of America," Barroso said in a statement. "We need to change the current crisis into a new opportunity. We need a new deal for a new world."

"I sincerely hope that with the leadership of President Obama, the United States of America will join forces with Europe to drive this new deal. For the benefit of our societies, for the benefit of the world," he said.

The EU has led calls for a broad overhaul of global financial architecture to tackle the economic crisis and wants to launch the process at an international summit in Washington on November 15.

In particular, the bloc has been waiting to see what approach a new US president might take to tackle the global financial crisis.

Obama supporters monitor the elections on a giant TV screen in the Netherlands [AFP]

Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, sounded reassured.

"I know Barack Obama and we share many values. We both have determination to show that government can act to help people fairly through these difficult times facing the global economy," he said.

The Russian president also sent Obama a congratulatory telegram in which he stressed that co-operation between the United States and Russia was important for global security and stability.

The statement came shortly after Dmitry Medvedev sharply criticised the US in
his state of the nation speech.

Ties between Russia and the US were seriously damaged by Russia's war in
August with neighbouring Georgia.

'New American image'

Words of congratulation also came from Belgrade to Warsaw and from Rome to Dublin.

In Poland, Radoslaw Sikorski, the foreign minister, said the epic victory of Obama presents a "new image for the America in the world".

Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg, voiced conviction that Obama's election could "redynamise" EU-US relations.

However, a spokesman for Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, and a staunch ally of George Bush, the outgoing US president, was less enthusiastic than some, saying that US-Italian ties would remain "friendly" during Obama's tenure.

Yves Leterme, the Belgian prime minister, underlined that there "are no shortage of challenges" to confront, citing global warming, energy shortages and the fight against poverty.