A new chapter in US-EU relations

Friday, 2021-01-22 14:40:32
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US President Joe Biden signs executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, after his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States. (Reuters)
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NDO – Shortly after becoming the boss of the White House, US President Joe Biden signed a series of executive orders reversing his predecessor's policies, including those that had once caused disagreement with allies in Europe.

Leaders of the European Union (EU) are hoping that trans-Atlantic relations will “turn to a new page” during Joe Biden’s presidential term.

Over recent decades, the EU and the US have fostered close ties in terms of culture, history, business and defence, but during his tenure, former US President Donald Trump introduced policies “standing outside of the EU” on many international issues, as well as supporting the United Kingdom’s departure from the “European common roof”. Accordingly, the trans-Atlantic relationship between the EU and the US was quite cold and even saw contradictions and tensions at times. However, bilateral ties currently have the prospect of “turning to a new page” with Joe Biden having been sworn in as the 46th US President.

US media reported that as soon as taking over the “hot seat” at the White House, President Joe Biden signed 15 decrees aimed at dealing with existing problems such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and ethnic inequality. The new US President has overturned some of his predecessor’s policies, including those that had once led to US-EU tensions such as the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change. Therefore, Biden’s move is seen as a start of a process of bringing the US back to the accord. In addition, his decision to revoke a presidential permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline also received applause from European leaders. EU officials have expressed hope and confidence that the trans-Atlantic relationship will recover again in the near future.

Immediately after the presidential inauguration, EU leaders extended many “positive words” to the new US President enclosed with a belief in a brighter trans-Atlantic relationship in the time ahead. In his video message, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier emphasised: “We look forward to having the US as a vital partner at our side again on many fronts: as we fight the COVID-19 pandemic together in a spirit of solidarity, tackle climate change at the global level, and address security issues, including arms control and disarmament, as well as many conflicts that require urgent attention.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel also extended her congratulations to the new US leader, expressing her hope for “a new chapter of Germany-US friendship and cooperation.”

Meanwhile, some European leaders have welcomed the US return to the Paris climate accord and hope that Washington will stand side by side with the EU in the fight against climate change. French President Emmanuel Macron emphasised: “We are together. We will be stronger to face the challenges of our time. Stronger to build our future. Stronger to protect our planet. Welcome back to the Paris Agreement!” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo congratulated Joe Biden upon his inauguration as the 46th US President, stating that climate change, COVID-19 and the fight against terrorism are at the top of a long list of global challenges that “can only be successfully tackled by working together.” Not only the leaders of EU member states, but UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, while addressing the UK Parliament, also expressed his desire to work with President Biden’s administration on the two countries’ common priorities and his hope that the new US President will join the UK in committing to achieving greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions neutrality by 2050.

From diplomatic signals conveyed by European officials, it can be seen that the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden marks the “beginning of a new and better chapter” for the trans-Atlantic relationship. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on January 20 also hailed President Biden’s inauguration as a “new dawn” for both Europe and the US. However, in order to “heat up” the above-mentioned relationship, undoubtedly the two sides still have a lot of work to do in the time ahead to resolve major disagreements on trade, climate change, and the Iranian nuclear issue.