The European Union is taking advantage of the forthcoming change of power in the United States to re-establish the links between the two traditional allies. ‘If the transatlantic partnership is strong, then the EU and the US are also stronger. It is time to reconnect, ‘ says European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Under President Donald Trump, relations between Brussels and Washington have deteriorated. The election victory of Democrat Joe Biden and his vice-president Kamala Harris, a new geopolitical and economic reality and a ‘more assertive and competent’ EU, offers a great opportunity to relaunch international cooperation, argues Brussels.
The commission proposes four policy areas to be integrated: health, including the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and sustainability, trade and strengthening democracy.
Brussels wants to work with Washington on the development and distribution of coronavaccins, tests and treatments, and regulate the trade in necessary medical goods. The commission also hopes that American efforts will be made to strengthen the World Health Organisation (WHO). President Trump withdrew the US from the WTO in July.
The commission also proposes that the US and the EU commit themselves, in a joint declaration, to achieving climate neutrality by 2050 on both continents. The EU leaders have already made that deal in the Green Deal. Biden has already declared itself in favour of net zero CO2 emissions in 30 years ‘ time.
The EU-US trade relationship must also be restored by resolving existing bilateral conflicts. Brussels wants to set up a European – American trade and Technology Council and a leading role with the US in reforming the World Trade Organisation (WTO). There should also be a ‘dialogue’ on how to deal with tax evasion by online platforms and large ICT companies.
Finally, the Commission is looking for cooperation with Washington to combat the rise of authoritarian regimes, human rights violations and corruption.
According to EU foreign minister Josep Borrell, the EU sends out a strong signal with concrete proposals. “Let’s go forward and not look back.’
EU president Charles Michel has already invited Biden, on behalf of EU governments, to a summit in the first half of next year. This can then be combined with a visit to NATO.