Biden is encouraging Europe, but what’s next?

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — While recovering from Trump’s trauma, Europe will welcome Biden’s warm words, but hot topics remain: from China and Russia to trade disputes, vaccine diplomacy and the transition to a carbon-neutral economy, the author notes. Europeans know that invisible price tags are attached to Biden’s policies. Alertness also persists.

Four years ago, Donald Trump traumatized European leaders by welcoming Brexit and dethroning NATO, declaring the alliance “obsolete” and the member states as parasites, and even initially refusing to openly support NATO’s fundamental principle of mutual protection.

Today, ahead of President Biden’s visit, the mere fact that he sees Europe as an ally and NATO as a vital element of the West’s security seems almost a revelation. However, the harrowing experience of the last presidential administration has left scars that some experts believe will take a long time to heal.

“Don’t underestimate the EU shock from several years of Trump’s rule,” said Rosa Balfour, director of the Carnegie European Center. “The shadow of his return has loomed, and the EU again risks remaining“ in the cold. ”Therefore, the EU is cautious about the American requirements.”

At the same time, serious topics remain for discussion – from the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan to military spending by Russia and China, from trade disputes and duties to climate and vaccine diplomacy.

However much the Europeans may value Biden’s vows of loyalty and permanence, they have just witnessed how 75 years of American foreign policy can disappear overnight with a change of president.

And they fear that this could happen again, believing that America has changed, and Biden is essentially just an “intermediary” between populist and nationalist presidents, said Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, vice president of the German Marshall Fund.

They know that invisible price tags are attached to Biden’s policies. And they doubt whether his “foreign policy for the middle class” is so different from Trump’s “America First.”

They also know that elections are on the way. In September, Germany will choose a successor to Angela Merkel, next May there will be presidential elections in France, and just 17 months later – midterm elections in the United States, which risk reducing Biden’s room for maneuver.

However, Biden’s visit to NATO on June 14, and then short summits with representatives of the European Union after the G7 summit in the UK, will not only be symbolic. They are tailored so that he arrives with allied support for a June 16 meeting in Geneva with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

“It is encouraging and encouraging that Biden is embarking on a new relationship with a show of faith in Brussels and NATO, saying the right words and embarking on a key strategic process for renewing the alliance for the next decade,” said Jana Puglierin, director of the European Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin. … “But at the same time, Biden wants to get a return on investment so that every dollar works, and we will need to show tangible results. So it’s not unconditional love, but rather friendship with privilege.”

French defense analyst François Heisbourg sees positive things about Biden’s trip.

“The US is back, Biden is back, and there’s nothing cynical about it,” said Hayesburgh, a special adviser to the Strategic Research Foundation in Paris. “Biden has firm principles, and he is determined to embody them. International affairs are not his priority, but the main position is: “Let us be friends again and restore politeness and courtesy with allies.”

But ultimately, says Heisbourg, “political calculations will become reality.”

Former US ambassador to NATO during the Barack Obama era, Ivo Daalder, believes Biden’s trip fits into his “We are back” statement and is motivated by a desire to emphasize the importance of alliances and partnerships. “We want to cooperate with other countries and become kinder to our friends. This also concerns the “Seven”, – he noted.

But at the same time, he and others note that Biden has not yet appointed ambassadors to either NATO, the European Union or most European countries, let alone approve them. Officials explain that their temporary absence is not important – moreover, the names of the likely candidates are well known.

But sooner or later, Daalder believes, the allies will need ambassadors who can immediately contact the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, and, if necessary, with Biden himself.

The summit of 30 NATO leaders will be short. Apart from the opening ceremony, it will only last two and a half hours – that is, each chapter will have only five minutes.

The leaders will agree on a communiqué now under discussion, discuss the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, and outline an important year-long study on how to redesign NATO’s Strategic Concept to address new challenges in cyber warfare, artificial intelligence, missile defense, disinformation, “advanced disruptive technologies” and a number of other issues.

In 2010, when the strategy was last revised, NATO still assumed that Russia could become a partner, and China was hardly mentioned at all. The new strategy clearly starts from fundamentally different premises.

However, NATO officials and ambassadors believe that there are enough topics for discussion: for example, how and where the transatlantic alliance should confront China, what forces NATO needs in principle, and how much of them will receive general funding, and how much will remain under the jurisdiction of individual countries.

Another question is how to adapt to the European Union’s not fully formed aspiration for “strategic autonomy”, while encouraging military spending and efficiency of European countries and avoiding duplication with NATO. Likewise, there is the question of how to better shape NATO politically, as demanded by French President Emmanuel Macron – it is possible that new meetings of key officials at the level of national security advisers and political leaders will help.

In addition, on the sidelines of bilateral meetings, leaders will begin to look for replacements for current NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, whose term of office was extended by two years to keep calm under the Trump presidency and will expire in September 2022.

Other questions will also be relevant: how to govern Afghanistan during and after the withdrawal of troops, and what to do with Putin’s Russia, Xi Jinping’s China and Alexander Lukashenko’s Belarus.

As one NATO ambassador said, for anyone who wants trains to run on time, the NATO summit will be attractive. Those who want a clash will be disappointed.

The same is true for the Biden meeting, which will take place the next day, June 15, and which is loudly called a summit with the European Union. Biden will meet with two presidents of the European Union, Charles Michel of the Council of Europe, which includes leaders from 27 member countries, and Ursula von der Leyen, who heads the European Commission, the bloc’s powerful bureaucratic apparatus.

On the eve of NATO, Biden will meet with 21 of the 27 EU leaders, since the composition of these organizations largely coincides. Key exceptions here are Turkey, a NATO member, which is uncomfortable with its relationship with Russia and its hostility to Greece, and Cyprus, an EU member, which blocks much of its coordination with NATO because of its enmity with Turkey.

The bloc will discuss a wide range of issues, including duties (including on steel and aluminum), trade disputes involving Airbus and Boeing, and new issues such as how to enforce the new minimum global tax for corporations, which stems from an agreement reached Saturday by the seven finance ministers.

Other issues include data transfers, military spending and procurement, military mobility, the transition to a carbon neutral economy (including quotas), regulation of global tech giants and social media companies, reforms of key multilateral institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization. – and, of course, how best to cope with a growing China and an aggressive Russia.

At the same time, caution remains – and not only due to the fact that another president, similar to Trump, may come to replace Biden. Despite all the warm words, German officials, for example, believe that Biden made his decision to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by September 11 unilaterally according to the old scheme – when Washington makes decisions, and the allies only have to follow him, Pulierin said. …

Likewise, European leaders have angered and embarrassed that Biden has supported the waiver of intellectual property rights for coronavirus vaccines. The move was taken without warning from allies – not to mention consultations – and drew a barrage of internal criticism.

Unlike Washington, Europeans do not see China as an equal rival and remain more dependent than the United States for trade and energy, both on China and Russia. Finally, some are alarmed by Biden’s overly unambiguous, it seems to them, attempts to present the world as a confrontation between democracy and authoritarianism.

“Connecting with allies before the summit with Putin is important and goes beyond mere symbolism,” said Nathalie Tocci, director of the Italian Institute of International Relations. “But Europeans are mistaken if they think everything will return to its previous state.”

She believes Europeans need to be more active and collaborate more closely with Biden on key issues like climate, vaccines and trade. According to her, this will create “a critical mass of the West, which will result in a global multilateral agreement, more comprehensive.”

According to her, this is the best way to show that democracy is “bearing fruit.”


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