The summit between US President Joe Biden and the leadership of the European Union was another milestone in the new transatlantic partnership.
The political will to work together with the closest allies has undoubtedly returned. The G7 summit in Cornwall and the NATO summit in Brussels clearly indicated this, too. The fact that the US president has chosen Europe for his first trip abroad has already demonstrated his personal commitment and that of his administration to strengthen transatlantic relations.
The United States is taking a cooperative approach towards the European Union. This was not always the case. The renewed transatlantic partnership is based on more engagement, trust and coordination. The talks with the EU have not only been symbolically important but also about taking further steps, setting and implementing a renewed transatlantic agenda.
This was possible because Mr Biden fulfilled his promises in foreign policy early on. Thus, many policies of the Trump administration were immediately reversed in essential fields. Since he took office on 20 January, there have been several positive steps. Just to name a few: the substantial US funding for the international COVAX facility, the return to the Paris climate agreement, the re-engagement with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), and the resumption of EU-US dialogue on China.
Both sides are talking to each other and not about each other.
I welcome the decision by both parties to suspend the harmful tariffs related to the Airbus-Boeing dispute for five years. This is a concrete and tangible outcome of the EU-US Summit. With that decision, severe impacts for 149 product categories worth $11.5 billion can be avoided. After almost 17 years of mutual accusations, we can move forward and find long-standing solutions.
Unfortunately, not all bilateral transatlantic trade disputes have been resolved yet. US import tariffs on steel and aluminium for questionable national security reasons, divergences in technology policy and the strong US focus on a “Buy America” policy inhibit the existing potential for better economic relations.
The United States is and remains our most important political and economic partner. Together our economies represent around 40% of the world’s GDP. We would give our economies a boost in the post-pandemic recovery if all trade related disputes could be resolved. So let us further collaborate trustfully to address bilateral issues as well as global challenges.
President Biden’s trip to Europe has also enhanced the transatlantic view towards Russia. The relations between the European Union and the Russian Federation are unfortunately at a low point. The transatlantic partners share concerns regarding Russia’s deepening authoritarian rule. The NATO communiqué adopted on Monday has demonstrated this once again. The Kremlin’s aggressive actions are a threat to Euro-Atlantic security.
The EU’s High Representative Josep Borrell and the European Commission have presented a new report on the state of relations with Russia. The leitmotif is threefold: to push back, to constrain and to engage vis-á-vis the Kremlin. Both NATO and the EU are ready to offer an open hand to Moscow. We are willing to continue with dialogue and to de-escalate the situation. But this requires the Kremlin to demonstrate its willingness to work with us and to reverse its behaviour.
On this basis, the 27 heads of state and government will debate this at the upcoming European Council on 24 and 25 June. Leaders will need to make strategic choices for the way forward in our Russia policy.
David McAllister is an MEP who currently chairs the European Parliament’s committee on foreign affairs.
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