The European Union Has High Hopes for Biden, but Nothing Will Ever Be the Same

Even fans of President Joe Biden and optimists do not think that one can turn back time and that the relationship between the European Union and the U.S. will be as it was before President Donald Trump took office. European politics also reacted to world changes in the last few years. There has been enough time to identify priorities that reduce reliance on the U.S., and let’s be honest, this is not such a big deal.

According to analysts, one must examine three important factors in evaluating the relationship between the new American administration and the European Union:

• environmental protection;

• national defense; and

• trade.

Although President Joe Biden only recently took office, you can already sense that dealing with climate change will be his political legacy. The new president is not keeping his commitment a secret, as he promised $2 billion for the endeavor. Analysts at the Rasmussen Global think tank predict that after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, a good way to strengthen the American economy would be to decrease dependency on fossil fuels, while creating new environmentally conscious workplaces. Biden has a clear path, since there is a Democratic majority in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. This makes his job easier than it was for President Barack Obama. Among Biden’s first executive orders was returning the United States to the Paris climate agreement, which is great news for the European Union, too.

Donald Trump damaged America’s relationship with NATO after he mercilessly chastised its European members for not paying enough to cover the cost of their own national defenses. Following his comments, every member nation created its own plan to increase its defense budget to 2% of their gross domestic product by 2024. Without a doubt, that was a step forward, but it did not improve conditions at NATO by much. The situation will be different with Biden in every respect, but experts are calling attention to the fact that the new administration will make demands, too. The administration will not decrease the defense budget because Biden wants to allocate more money to repel the Russian threat as part of his “deterrence and prevention” policy. Meanwhile, the EU has reinforced its national defense by devoting more attention to it, thanks to Trump. The new American president’s first visit to the NATO summit in Brussels, likely this summer, will be a spectacular event meant to improve relationships. That much is considered certain at the military alliance’s headquarters in Europe. European leaders are in favor of holding a U.S.-EU summit there.

The question remains as to whether trade talks that were abandoned four years ago will resume. Obama did not have time to complete negotiations, and Trump had no intention of pursuing them. Instead, a trade war ensued with the imposition of tariffs and sanctions. Reversing these actions will certainly not happen overnight, especially since tariffs on certain French and German products were only activated a few days ago.

The European Union is presenting a new agreement to the United States, a country that Biden is now leading, according to an announcement by European Council President Charles Michel at the European Parliament’s plenary sitting. The agreement had the resounding title, “For a stronger Europe, for a stronger America and for a better world.”

The agreement has five elements:

• multilateral cooperation;

• combating COVID-19;

• cooperation on climate change;

• restarting the economy through fair trade and digitalization; and

• unification of military powers for national defense and the protection of peace.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, surprisingly talked a great deal about the “uncontrolled political power” of U.S. tech giants. Von der Leyen said that the power of large online companies should be restricted because new technologies cannot lead others in deciding how we live our lives. She reiterated that the European Commission created new regulations for online markets with the goal of criminalizing items online that are illegal in the real world.

According to the European Commission president, it is unacceptable that incomprehensible and invisible algorithms should make decisions for us.

“No matter how right it may have been for Twitter to switch off Donald Trump’s account five minutes after midnight, such serious interference with freedom of expression should be based on laws and not on company rules. It should be based on decisions of parliaments and politicians and not of Silicon Valley managers,” said Von der Leyen, who suggested creating a U.S.-EU technology council that would enact regulations together for digital planning.

Europe expects that the U.S. will return to a multilateral world following Trump’s preference for doing business through bilateral exchanges, a good way to damage relationships with allies. In Europe, countries hope that they can once more sit down to negotiate with the American delegation regarding:

• the Paris climate agreement;

• the Iran nuclear deal;

• the World Trade Organization;

• the World Health Organization; and

• NATO, as mentioned above

Emotions ran high during the European parliament’s session. Esteban Gonzalez Pons, a Spanish politician from the People’s Party, said, “Donald Trump will become nothing but an appendix to the history books. As President von der Leyen pointed out, we cannot say the same about Trumpism, a virus that is very much still alive … Never has an American president hurt so much and harmed so many in such a short time.”

Irish Green Party representative Ciaran Cuffe also commented that, “… hope is back in Washington. In these dark hours, we look to the dawn of Inauguration Day.”

There is one more important question that has arisen. Some 30 million Europeans (citizens of Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria) can still only visit the U.S. with visas. The EU is taking steps to reach reciprocity with the U.S.

Katalin Cseh, a Canadian-born Hungarian politician of the Momentum Movement of the European Parliament, is raising awareness that corruption gives strength to autocrats and that there is a dire need to hold a summit for global democracy.

About this publication

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply