Biden at the White House: new opportunities for Transatlantic relations?

Employment and Social Affairs

Transatlantic relations seem to be, at least to some extent, weakened by Donald Trump’s Presidency in the United States. Off course the relations between European Union and US keep on being pivotal but on the other hand it is true that in the last 4 years something changed regarding some key policy as environment or defense.

Looking at NATO, for instance, it could still be considered the strongest alliance in the world but it faces difficulties when it comes to relations between Germany and US or between two other allies countries as Greece and Turkey. Also, on other key issue transatlantic relations are not at the highest point in history, with different views on several dossier. That is why Joe Biden victory in recent US presidential elections could open new opportunities for the relaunch of a strong transatlantic alliance.

“I warmly congratulate Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for their victory in the U.S. Presidential elections,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “The EU and the US are friends and allies, our citizens share the deepest of links. I look forward to working with President-elect Biden”. European Parliament President David Sassoli cited the common values that many Europeans felt were not shared by Trump. “We have common values, a strong attachment to democracy and freedom,” Sassoli said. “By relaunching the relationships between Europe and the United States we can design and build a better world. It will be nice to work together”.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, warmly congratulated “Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for their historic victory” and said that the Union is looking forward to better relations than under President Donald Trump. “It is not a secret, (either), that in the past 4 years things have become complicated,” Borrell told at the European Parliament. Both sides, despite being longstanding allies, disagreed over key topics from trade and security to the fight against climate change. “You can rest assured that we are ready to engage fast with the new administration,” Borrell said, while also referring to the political problems that still exist in the US where Trump has yet to concede defeat.

A big source of hope for the EU is the prospect of pacified relations with its largest trading partner. Biden is expected to return to the traditional fold of US foreign policy. For example, the dispute over subsidies to Airbus and Boeing, on which the World Trade Organization has ruled that the two sides were at fault, could de-escalate rapidly. And the US return to the multilateralism, in general, would allow the differences to be settled in a more traditional diplomatic manner.

That is the good news also as regard the fight against the pandemic, and for the economic relaunch in a more multilateral world. The concrete steps Biden could take include re-joining the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and calling a halt to America’s projected withdrawal from the Who. In these ways, a Biden presidency would reassure Europe. And Biden would take a similar position to the European Union on the promotion of human rights, possibly seeking to re-join the Human Rights Council. For Biden, the EU is thus a natural ally, but he needs the EU to be a strong international actor to effectively relaunch transatlantic relations and together with-it multilateralism.

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