A new start for EU-US relations?
The election of President Biden was greeted by sighs of relief across Europe and offered the promise of a renewed relationship. The first hundred days in the office have been impressive. The tone vis-à-vis the EU has changed radically. New perspectives of cooperation are opening up, as set out in the Commission’s December communication on “EU-US: A new transatlantic agenda for global change”.
For this to be fruitful two conditions need to be met. The first and most important one is linked to the capacity of the EU to deliver and to do what it takes to be a credible and strong partner. In this sense the future of the transatlantic partnership depends more on the European side than the American one. America is a super power and will remain one. And super powers only listen to other powers that are serious.
But there is also a need for changes on the U.S side. The quiet assumption, so prevalent in the U.S, that it is natural for it to lead on all major issues and for the Europeans to follow will not stand up to the requirements of today. A strong partner can and will at times have different views and even different interests and should be allowed to defend them without being accused of jeopardizing the relationship.
This policy brief concentrates on this latter part and ask a number of questions addressed to our American friends. A strong relationship can only thrive if we are honest with each other and at times frank. All too often the European timidity when confronted with U.S interlocutors is compensated by badmouthing them behind their backs. That is the worst possible combination.
(Photo credit: European Parliament, © European Union, 1995-2021)