USA vs. EU: This is how von der Leyen plans to restart relations – politics abroad


The change of power in Washington electrifies Brussels: Can a new chapter in transatlantic cooperation be opened under the new US President Joe Biden?

Hopes are high after US President Donald Trump repeatedly demonstrated his “America First” strategy to his traditional partners in Europe. Successor Joe Biden has made it clear not to shrink a millimeter from demands, for example, for higher NATO contributions from Europe. But it also deliberately sends out Europe-friendly signals, not least on the two most important issues, the global fight against the corona pandemic and climate change.

Brussels is pushing for a quick US-EU summit

Despite some concerns about Corona, the 27 heads of state and government will meet in Brussels for the last regular summit of the year on December 11 and 12. Shortly before that, both EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Council President Charles Michel were working on a new partnership strategy. BILD has an exclusive draft of the paper that is to be adopted on Wednesday as a line of the commission for the next few weeks and months.

One key aspect: Brussels is confidently proposing a US-EU summit “in the first half of 2021”.

Von der Leyen personally laid the foundation for this in a speech to EU ambassadors on November 10, when the election result still seemed shaky: “It is time for a transatlantic agenda that does justice to today’s world. And I believe it is Europe that should take the initiative and make the new US administration an offer to work together in areas that can strengthen our bilateral and multilateral partnerships, ”said von der Leyen. Now words follow deeds.

Under the title “A new EU-US agenda for global change”, the draft of the Commission’s strategy first describes the common potential: “Our common global power and our common global influence are still unsurpassed today. We are home to nearly a billion people and are the two largest blocs of advanced democracies. We generate around a third of global GDP and trade and 60 percent of foreign direct investment, ”says the text.

Small swipe at Trump

“We are the most important drivers of innovation and the strongest research centers in the world, developing technologies from 5G technology to vaccines.” He continued: “Our joint commitment is essential in a world in which authoritarian powers are trying to undermine democracies , aggressive actors try to destabilize regions and institutions, and closed economies take advantage of the openness on which our own societies depend. ”

The authors of the EU paper did not resist a swipe at Trump either: “In recent years our relationship has been put to the test by geopolitical power shifts, bilateral tensions and the withdrawal to unilateral politics.”

On the other hand, the EU is setting its new credo, knowing full well that its own homework, such as the quarrel about the budget and Corona aid as well as Brexit, has not yet been done: “A united, capable and independent EU is good for Europe and good for the transatlantic one Partnership – they strengthen each other and are not mutually exclusive. ”

These are the core elements of the new transatlantic pact proposed by the EU according to the seven-page agenda that BILD has exclusively:

1. Joint disease control

Both sides should learn lessons from the so far poorly coordinated action in the corona pandemic: “In the longer term, the EU and the USA should jointly learn the lessons from this pandemic and work more closely together in the areas of prevention, preparedness and response. This could include improving the exchange of data and knowledge, early warning systems and the stockpiling of important medical equipment. ”

The cooperation is to become concrete at a world health summit under the Italian G20 presidency in 2021.

2. Protection of the planet and prosperity

The EU not only welcomes “President-elect Biden’s commitment to re-accede to the Paris Agreement and to set an ambitious updated contribution under the Paris Agreement.” It is hoping for more: “A joint transatlantic commitment to a net zero emissions path 2050 would make climate neutrality (…) a new global benchmark. ”

“With the European Green Deal, the EU is setting a good example,” says the paper. Especially in the areas of emissions trading, carbon pricing and taxation, the EU and USA should work more closely in the future. ”

Brussels also calls on the USA to take joint initiatives to protect the seas (including reducing plastic waste) and forest areas.

3. Technology, trade, standards

The EU strategy can be read as a declaration of war on China: “Our common values ​​of human dignity, individual rights and democratic principles make us natural partners to take advantage of rapid technological change and to face the challenges of rival systems of digital administration “, is it[called”ThisgivesusanunprecedentedopportunitytosetacommontechnologyagendabetweentheEUandtheUS”

China is later defined in the paper as a “negotiating partner for cooperation” with the EU, but also as an “economic competitor” and “rival” in relation to state systems.

Another indication that Beijing is likely to react with concern to the paper: “The EU will also propose to the US to build on Europe’s technological leadership in order to push for a secure 5G infrastructure worldwide and to open a dialogue on 6G.”

At the same time, bilateral trade disputes would have to be resolved. “This includes ongoing efforts to settle the Boeing / Airbus dispute,” write the strategists in Brussels.

As a “first step”, the EU also suggests “discussing a transatlantic approach to online platforms and big tech – starting with cooperation in the search for global solutions for fair taxation and market distortions in the digital economy.”

4. Security, prosperity, democracy

Joe Biden’s proposal for an early “Summit of Democracies” is met with undisguised enthusiasm in Brussels: there is talk of a new “spine” for the international community. The EU declares its readiness to “play its role to the full at the Summit of Democracies” and “make further commitments to fight corruption, authoritarianism and human rights abuses around the world”.

The rather vague formulations on trouble spots such as Russia and Ukraine or the difficult relationship with Turkey show the need for discussion and coordination that has accumulated in recent years. The ideas currently also differ widely with regard to the nuclear agreement with the mullah regime in Iran, which Brussels still regards as an “important pillar” of the global security strategy.

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