European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker congratulated Emmanuel Macron on Sunday and wished the centrist well for the 7 May French presidential runoff against anti-EU National Front leader Marine Le Pen.

“Juncker congratulated Emmanuel Macron on his result in the first round and wished him all the best for the next round,” spokesman Margaritis Schinas said on Twitter. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman also wished Emmanuel Macron well and praised his pro-Europe stance.

Other EU officials also welcomed Macron’s strong showing. Many officials in Brussels had privately expressed concerns about Ms Le Pen, a eurosceptic who has taken a hard line on immigration.

“To see the flags of #France and the EU greet the result of @emmanuelmacron, it’s the hope and future of our generation,” tweeted EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, a former Italian foreign minister.

Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief negotiator on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, hinted at concerns that Le Pen could lead France away from the 28-nation bloc.

“Patriot and European, I will put my trust in Emmanuel Macron on May 7. France must remain European,” the Frenchman tweeted.

Defeated conservative candidate Francois Fillon and far-leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon both urged their supporters to vote for Mr Macron in the second round.

This is in stark contrast with Donald Trump’s praise for Marine Le Pen. On Friday, Trump had offered her a tacit endorsement, describing the far-right leader as the “strongest” candidate in the first-round vote.

“Whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorism, and whoever is the toughest at the borders, will do well in the election,” Trump said.

Though Macron, 39, is a comparative political novice who has never held elected office, opinion polls in the run-up to the ballot consistently suggested he would easily win the run-off against Ms Le Pen.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the anti-immigration and anti-EU National Front, described the result as historic and said the time had come for what she described as the real alternative.