First 100 Days: The Future of U.S.-EU Relations

This article was originally published by the Diplomatic Courier. Click here to read the full piece.

In his first public statement following his victory, President-elect Joe Biden declared: “I pledge to be a President who seeks not to divide, but to unify. Who doesn’t see red and blue states, but a United States…Let us be the nation that we know we can be. A nation united. A nation strengthened. A nation healed”.

As if it were necessary, this statement sets the tone for the priorities of the upcoming Biden administration: to reunite a deeply fractured nation. Taking back control of the pandemic is also an understandable, significant priority. While this may mean there is little attention given to overall foreign policy, including relations with the European Union (EU), it does give tremendous hope to the future of these relations which, as a result, will be grounded in a more pacified democracy.

Also, with the risk of stating the obvious as well as understating the truth, much hope has been invested into the vision of a renewed, trustworthy, and appeased diplomacy; something which has been dearly missed over the last four years. And, in addition to the now confirmed President, some familiar and reassuring faces in key posts, such as francophone Tony Blinken, are present to validate these hopes for Europe.

So, what will or should be done in the first 100 days of this long-awaited administration vis-à-vis relations with the European Union? And what can we expect to see as a result taking place in the EU in 2021?

First and foremost, a renewed interest in multilateralism should frame future relations at the outset; signs of this are already to be found in the Biden-Harris pledge to: “re-join the Paris Climate Accord on day one and lead a major diplomatic push to raise the ambitions of countries’ climate targets”. This also puts climate change as a key priority for the new administration, as it is for the EU. Re-joining the Paris Climate Accord also tells America’s allies that responsible officials with a respect for science are in charge, and ready to cooperate with them to address this common threat to the planet. Further, withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO) might also be quickly re-considered.

The same may apply to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the hope that more U.S.-EU coordination applies, and with the view of accelerating towards the resolution of this major crisis. In this regard, the EU made initial proposals to the U.S. in December 2020, such as teaming up to fund the development and equitable global distribution of vaccines, tests, and treatments. This began with the collaboration and contribution to ACT-A and COVAX initiatives; developing a “pandemic playbook for preparedness and response and step up cooperation and data sharing between our respective agencies”.

Another major sign of geopolitical convergence was seen when President-elect Biden also said he would re-enter the historic Iran nuclear deal—negotiated by the Obama-Biden administration alongside European allies and other world nations—if Tehran returns to compliance with the deal.

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