News & Analysis

EU makes first formal overtures to Joe Biden

A new EU proposal suggests a bright future for relations with the United States once Joe Biden takes his place in the White House.

The European Commission has put forward a proposal for a new, forward-looking transatlantic agenda. While the past few years have been tested by geopolitical power shifts, bilateral tensions and unilateral tendencies, the Commission believes that the victory in last month’s US presidential election of Joe Biden, combined with a more assertive and capable European Union and a new geopolitical and economic reality, present a once-in-a-generation opportunity to design a new transatlantic agenda for global cooperation based on our common values, interests and global influence.

“We are taking the initiative to design a new transatlantic agenda fit for today’s global landscape,” says Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission. “The transatlantic alliance is based on shared values and history, but also interests: building a stronger, more peaceful and more prosperous world. When the transatlantic partnership is strong, the EU and the US are both stronger. It is time to reconnect with a new agenda for transatlantic and global cooperation for the world of today.”

Principled partnership

The EU’s proposal for a new, forward-looking transatlantic agenda for global cooperation reflects where global leadership is required and is centred on overarching principles: stronger multilateral action and institutions, pursuit of common interests, leveraging collective strength, and finding solutions that respect common values.

The new agenda spans four areas, highlighting first steps for joint action that would act as an initial transatlantic roadmap, to address key challenges and seize opportunities.

The EU wants the US to join its global leadership role in promoting global cooperation in response to the coronavirus, protecting lives and livelihoods, and reopening our economies and societies.

The EU also wants to work with the US to ensure funding for the development and equitable global distribution of vaccines, tests and treatments, develop joint preparedness and response capacities, facilitate trade in essential medical goods, and reinforce and reform the World Health Organisation.

While the coronavirus pandemic continues to pose significant challenges, climate change and biodiversity loss remain the defining challenges of our time. They require systemic change across our economies and global cooperation across the Atlantic and the world.

Green agenda

The EU is proposing to establish a comprehensive transatlantic green agenda, to coordinate positions and jointly lead efforts for ambitious global agreements, starting with a joint commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050. A joint trade and climate initiative, measures to avoid carbon leakage, a green technology alliance, a global regulatory framework for sustainable finance, joint leadership in the fight against deforestation, and stepping up ocean protection all form part of the EU’s proposals.

Sharing values of human dignity, individual rights and democratic principles, accounting for about a third of the world’s trade and standards, and facing common challenges makes the EU and US natural partners on trade, technology and digital governance.

The EU wants to work closely with the US to solve bilateral trade irritants through negotiated solutions, to lead reform of the World Trade Organisation, and to establish a new EU-US Trade and Technology Council. In addition, the EU is proposing to create a specific dialogue with the US on the responsibility of online platforms and Big Tech, work together on fair taxation and market distortions, and develop a common approach to protecting critical technologies. Artificial Intelligence, data flows, and cooperation on regulation and standards also form part of the EU’s proposals.

A more democratic world

The EU and the US share a fundamental interest in strengthening democracy, upholding international law, supporting sustainable development and promoting human rights around the world. A strong EU-US partnership will be crucial to support democratic values, as well as global and regional stability, prosperity, and conflict resolution.

The European Union is proposing to re-establish a closer transatlantic partnership in different geopolitical arenas, working together to enhance coordination, utilise all available tools, and leverage collective influence. As initial steps, the EU will play a full part in the Summit for Democracy proposed by President-elect Biden, and will seek joint commitments with the US to fight the rise of authoritarianism, human rights abuses and corruption. The EU is also looking to coordinate joint EU-US responses to promote regional and global stability, strengthen transatlantic and international security, including through a new EU-US Security and Defence Dialogue, and strengthen the multilateral system.

“With our concrete proposals for cooperation under the future Biden administration, we are sending strong messages to our US friends and allies,” says EU High Representative Josep Borrell. “Let’s look forward, not back. Let’s rejuvenate our relationship. Let’s build a partnership that delivers prosperity, stability, peace and security for citizens across our continents and around the world. There’s no time to wait – let’s get to work.”

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