It was his first speech addressed to Europe, online in Munich this afternoon, from the White House: Joe Biden wants to reestablish warm relationships with the USs traditional allies and convince them that he wants to work together.
“ I send a clear message to the world: America is back. The transatlantic alliance is back. Were not looking back, were looking to the future. Partnership with Europe is a cornerstone,” says Biden.
For example, since today, the US is once again officially participating in the Paris Climate Agreement. Under Donald Trump, the Americans got out. Trump called the deal bad for American citizens and “not fair “to America. According to Trump, the Climate Agreement would also cost millions of jobs.
contrary, Biden called on its European allies to double efforts to combat climate change and warned of a “global existential crisis”.
What is the policy of Europe?
The new US President wants a better relationship between the US and the EU than in recent years. And according to two leading experts in international politics, it will not be up to Biden.
“ He knows Europe. He doesnt need a learning period, and you dont have to explain things to him. The problem lies more with Europe, because we are not a federal union,” says François Heisbourg, special advisor to the International Institute of Strategic Studies in Paris.
“ The US should ask Europe: what is your agenda? We want to get on board when it comes to climate change, a deal with Iran and more, but the Biden government must first ask Europe: what is your policy?” , says also analyst at the European department of the American think tank Carnegie Foundation, Judy Dempsey.
“ The EU has a lot of things to do together with the US. And much of that has been harmed by the Trump administration: the Iran dossier, climate change, the reconstruction of multilateral relations, a whole agenda,” says Dempsey.
At the Munich Online Security Conference, Biden spoke about many new forms of cooperation, after yesterdays State Department said that the US is prepared to “discuss a diplomatic way forward on Irans nuclear programme”. Because, too, Trump withdrew from that deal with Iran.
Heisbourg and Dempsey met Biden regularly over the past decades. “He has warm feelings for Europe,” says Heisbourg. “But the strategic hub of the world is no longer Europe, that is Asia.”
European leaders think they are going back to the good old days with Biden, says Heisbourg. “The Age Trump is behind us, relations will be civilized again, but the world of yesteryear no longer exists.”
The most important foreign problem for the US is about its relationship with China, both experts say. “The new relationship with Europe depends on whether the Americans believe that Europe is helping or hindering them in their relationship with China. This is important for Biden, but that would be important to any American president,” says Heisbourg.
“ The EU puts interests above values and standards,” says Dempsey. “Biden does not want to criticize Europeans, but the trade agreement with China at the end of last year was disappointing. Biden doesnt really have hands free now.”
“ The fact that the US has to face China is perhaps the only consensus that exists in America today. The only subject on which Republicans and Democrats are more or less in agreement, and the great challenge facing European diplomats and Heisbourg,” says Heisbourg.
Problems in your own home
Even though the whole EU eventually agreed to a trade agreement with China, there is considerable division in most other areas. Heisbourg: “Division on a subject like China is a luxury we cannot afford.”
There are also problems for the EU at home, such as the decline of the rule of law in Poland and Hungary. For leaders like Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán, Trump had nothing but praise. But that will be different under Biden.
“ We need to show that democracies can still mean something to people. Thats our mission. Democracy does not happen by accident, we must defend it and strengthen it and renew it. We have to prove that it is not a relic in history,” said Biden.