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  • Markus Kaim

Reboot with President Biden.

(Reading time: 2 - 4 minutes)

Europe now has the opportunity to set a new transatlantic agenda. "We should not wait for US initiatives, but actively make offers to the US", demands Markus Kaim, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik.

Joseph Biden's election as the 46th President of the United States does not mean that transatlantic relations will return to the status quo before 2017. The international environment has changed too much in the meantime. Europe will now have to make clearer than before what policy it expects from Washington, but also what it is prepared to do itself. Five thematic blocks form the basis of a renewed transatlantic agenda.

// 01 Shaping Transatlantic Economic Policy.

In trade policy, it is important that the steel and aluminium tariffs imposed by Trump and the European counter-tariffs be lifted. The EU Commission can offer the Biden administration new agreements for individual industrial sectors in bilateral trade talks. A modernisation of the WTO rules, i.e. their adaptation to the changed digital world economy, is also of great importance.

As far as energy policy is concerned, the US and the EU should in principle exchange views on their energy policy concepts and their compatibility with the Paris climate goals. If Germany wants to support the Biden administration in its dealings with Congress, one option would be to impose a moratorium on the Nord Stream 2 project.

In digital policy, the aim is to develop a jointly coordinated approach that will increase the resilience of German companies to aggressive Chinese economic policies. Such a dialogue should also provide a forum to discuss data protection standards, competition law, digital platforms and taxation of digital services.

// 02. conclude transatlantic vaccine alliance.

Around the turn of the year 2020/21, the first vaccines against the coronavirus will probably be available. European and American companies will then compete for profits. A transatlantic vaccine alliance could give everyone in the world access to a Covid-19 vaccine. As a second step, both sides should agree on an agenda for a global health policy aimed at strengthening health systems in third countries and making them more immune to future crises.

// 03 Contain Russia, stabilise Europe's neighbours.

The basic idea behind Biden's Russia policy is that Moscow is an "enemy" of the US, aiming to weaken, if not destroy NATO and the EU in the long term. A general leitmotif of Biden's administration will thus be the containment of Russian influence. Europe could offer a policy on Eastern Europe that would have a security policy dimension as well as a reform and economic policy dimension. Transport, energy and digital infrastructure projects and priorities in the eastern part of the EU and its eastern neighbourhood could be discussed.

// 04. nuclear dispute with Iran - return to diplomacy.

The change of president allows Europe to return to cooperation with Washington and shift the focus of its Iran policy away from efforts to save the nuclear agreement and towards developing a new transatlantic approach towards Tehran. The aim would be first to reach an interim agreement that would at least freeze Iran's nuclear activities and in return provide concrete economic relief. At the same time, US extraterritorial sanctions against European companies would have to be suspended.

// 05. reorganize competencies in Europe.

We must prevent a cascade of European politicians from making uncoordinated approaches to Washington in the coming weeks. Germany should use the remaining weeks of its EU presidency to coordinate the different priorities within the EU. Only in this way will it be possible to ensure that the states of Europe speak and are heard more with one voice. In the medium term there is also no way around the introduction of majority voting in the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the strengthening of Josep Borrell as the EU's "foreign minister". ®

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