EU-US relations at risk as Brussels fears Joe Biden will continue Trump’s policies | World | News


US President Donald Trump is deeply unpopular among European Union leaders. For example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has never attempted to hide her dislike of the President. Back in 2016, Mrs Merkel greeted Mr Trump’s victory with an extraordinary warning: that she would work with the US President on the condition that he respect democratic values.

Things did not improve from there.

The transatlantic relationship deteriorated significantly after Mr Trump’s arrival at the White House in 2017, with disagreements over international trade, defence and technology.

European officials have also struggled with his direct style and use of Twitter.

Now that Democrat Joe Biden has won the race to become the next US President, many are expecting things to go back to how they were before the American firebrand burst onto the scene.

However, some EU politicians are said to be unsure that the former Vice President will fully reverse some of Mr Trump’s policies.

German centre-right MEP David McAllister believes Mr Biden will continue to make demands on EU nations to spend more on defence to keep NATO together, but will “probably only present them differently in tone and style”.

David O’Sullivan, the former EU ambassador to the US, also told the EU Observer: “I’m certain that the Biden administration will not just sign up to the agreement [on Iranian nuclear non-proliferation] that Trump walked out of, but would call for extra restrictions on Iranian missile programmes and terrorist sponsorship.”

On trade, German centre-left MEP Bernd Lange added: “I am convinced that we can achieve, here and there, some trade-facilitation measures, but there won’t be a comprehensive agreement like the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal negotiated before Trump came to power, due to strong competitive differences.”

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EU politicians are also aware that Mr Biden is to inherit a politically and socially divided US, which is therefore going to prevent him from conducting the same kind of foreign policy as in the pre-Trump era.

Faced with an economy battered by coronavirus, Mr Biden will probably eschew Mr Trump’s more protectionist tendencies but some sort of “America First” vision for sensitive industries is likely to live on.

French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said: “There is no return to the good old times due to America’s internal crisis.”

Mr O’Sullivan added: “He [Biden] will struggle to impose his agenda.

“This is going to lead to a very introverted America focusing very much on domestic politics and domestic concerns.”

EU Justice Commission Didier Reynders told Belgian radio: “We have heard the groundswell of opinion polls, of the media, especially in Europe, announcing the end [of Trump’s politics], with a very large gap in favour of Joe Biden.

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“But, I think, you have to be aware of the situation in the United States, which is very divided geographically.

“From now on, we must look at how Europe can work with emerging powers that are difficult to manage such as Russia, China, or India.

“This is probably a role that the EU should take on: promoting multilateralism in the face of an American retreat.”

Bruce Stokes, an associate fellow at Chatham House, a British think-tank, also told the Local Deutsche: “Europeans have to understand that a Biden administration is going to be so domestically preoccupied.”

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