10/06/2021

The EU must restore its relationship with the US

2 min
Joe Biden, just before boarding Air Force One to fly to the United Kingdom on Wednesday

In his inauguration speech, US President Joe Biden warned that "the United States is back", a declaration of intent of the turn to the isolationist and nationalist policy practiced by his predecessor in office, Donald Trump. One of Trump's obsessions was the abandonment of multilateralism, of major international agreements and participation in global organisations, to return to bilateralism, a strategy that allowed him to take advantage of his strength to impose his conditions on different countries. The price he paid, however, was that of losing diplomatic influence in the world, abandoning the role of leader of the Western world that this country has had since the Second World War. Biden wants to regain a certain leadership, and that is why he has chosen Europe as the destination for his first major international tour.

Over the next few days, Biden will be engaged in frenetic diplomatic activity, with the G-7 summit in Cornwall (UK), a visit to the European institutions in Brussels, a meeting with his NATO partners and talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Washington is keen to strengthen its alliance with the European Union and the United Kingdom in order to meet the challenges posed by China, Russia and, secondarily, Turkey. And Europeans must seize this opportunity to turn the page on the Trump era and regain their privileged relationship with the United States. In a way, the turnaround represented by Biden offers an opportunity for the European Union to regain its place in the world and stop being the economic giant that is losing strength and the diplomatic dwarf that it is now.

Beyond the specific agreements that may be reached, especially in the economic sphere, there is one aspect that should be stressed. In recent years, as a result of the electoral victories of populists like Trump or Bolsonaro, the perpetuation in power of authoritarian leaders like Putin or Erdogan and the growing weight of China in the international order, liberal democracy seemed to be at a low point and there was no one, outside the EU, to defend it. As Biden himself wrote in an article in the Washington Post on June 5, "this trip is for the whole world to see the United States' renewed commitment to our allies and partners and [to] demonstrate the capacity of democracies to meet the challenges and defuse the threats of this new era".

It is time, then, to reclaim American and European diplomatic power. And one of the most effective ways to do this would be to spearhead a plan to expand vaccination against covid-19 across the globe. This could be one of the initiatives to be approved at the G-7, along with pushing an ambitious environmental agenda and imposing a minimum corporate tax. Washington's return to multilateralism must mean a change in its approach to international relations and increased cooperation with its European partners. Brussels has to race to make up for lost time with Trump.