Europe’s Dangerous Dependencies: What Joe Biden Does Differently than Donald Trump

Remember Donald Trump? Since Jan. 20, Joe Biden is the 46th president of the United States. He has done a lot of things to make people forget his predecessor. Biden has implemented a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan and, in the first quarter of 2021, has more people vaccinated against COVID-19 than the total amount of doses that had been promised to Europe’s citizens. The United States re-entered the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Human Rights Council. It once again supports the Iran nuclear deal and the New START treaty.

Donald Trump: Europe ‘Worse than China’ — United States Is Now Offering a Climate Partnership to Europe

While Europe was seen as “worse than China” under Trump, the United States is now offering a climate partnership to the European Union. We should accept it. Europe’s Green Deal and the U.S. stimulus package together could majorly advance the decarbonization of the world economy. However, Europe and the U.S. know that this won’t suffice. The world won’t be able to achieve the necessary 1.5 degree Celsius goal without or against China. That’s why the United States, after the theatrical thunder between their secretaries of state in Anchorage, wants to form a climate task force in cooperation with China.

Does that mean the trans-Atlantic relationship is doing well again? In the same week in which U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with NATO foreign ministers and Biden joined the virtual European Council, the United States had a clear message for the European states: Nord Stream 2 should not be built. The participating countries will be sanctioned, regardless of public international and European law. In terms of energy politics, the new U.S. administration grants Europe only limited sovereignty as well.

United States and Europe: What Joe Biden Does Differently than Donald Trump

There are more important things to focus on for Europe than the construction of an unnecessary pipeline that undermines its own climate goals. Having to pay Gazprom and its European financiers billions of dollars in damages if the pipeline gets canceled will upset the German minister of finance but not scare Gazprom.

But the process extends further than the pipe in the Baltic Sea. In the same week, the United States announced the preparation of punitive tariffs against several members states of the European Union that have levied taxes on (U.S.) digital platforms. The Belgian organization Swift, used for financial transactions worldwide, is facing sanctions under Biden as well.

Apparently Biden isn’t just following Trump’s path regarding the rapid withdrawal from wars, like in Afghanistan, but also in terms of the geoeconomics in a multipolar world. In strategically relevant areas like energy, digitization and the financial services industry, Biden’s motto is “Buy American.”

Europe must take this seriously. It must dare to strive for more sovereignty if it doesn’t want to bow to the extraterritorial U.S. sanctions and the aggressive and unfair Chinese trading practices. It’s not in Europe’s interest to capitulate to the Chinese model of state capitalism. But it also shouldn’t capitulate to private tech monopolies or become too dependent on decisions by the U.S. Congress that are motivated by domestic politics.

EU: Strength Threatened by China’s Mandatory Cloud and US Tech Giants

Europe’s strength, with regard to the automobile industry for example, isn’t threatened only by China’s cloud laws and ban on tech exports, but also by Apple, Google and the like. Tomorrow’s mobility, decarbonized and autonomous, relies on big data. Europe has to overcome its shortcomings in the IT industry. That starts with the German police force no longer storing its body cam footage on Amazon’s cloud — and the German armed forces no longer using Microsoft to store their data. A taxpayer-funded European cloud like GAIA-X cannot, of all things, entrust security related data to the Patriot Act’s access.

Germany must stop blocking the European taxation of platform turnovers. A European digital tax is a prerequisite for a globally negotiated solution.

It’s wise to examine China’s investments in Europe regarding its strategic relevance. European companies in key industries, however, must be obligated to no longer invoice their global deals in dollars, but in euros instead.

As long as the euro isn’t really a global currency, we need institutions governed by public laws that ensure that European companies are able to legally do business, irrespective of unilateral U.S. sanctions. What today affects only Iran could come into effect for China tomorrow.

Europe needs the U.S. market, but also the rest of the world. In order to keep up with China and the United States, it must dare to strive for more sovereignty. This is less a military question than an economic and technological one.

Jürgen Trittin was the German minister for the environment, nature conservation and nuclear safety from 1998 to 2005 and is a member of the Green Party.

About this publication

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply