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Europeans see no quick fix to U.S. ties

22 Comments
By Luke Baker, Andreas Rinke and Philip Blenkinsop

If Donald Trump loses in November, it's no secret that most European policymakers will be happy to see his back. But as they envision the possibility of a post-Trump future, many are wondering how quickly the trans-Atlantic alliance can be fixed.

Despite U.S. opinion polls showing Biden ahead, officials in capitals across Europe say they are making no assumptions about the likely outcome of the U.S. election.

Having failed to anticipate Trump's first victory, "the German government already burned its fingers," said Jürgen Hardt, foreign affairs spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party and an expert on U.S.-German ties. "I do not have the impression that the German government is waiting for another president – and I would advise them not to do it."

Still, when they allow themselves to look ahead to the prospect of a Biden presidency, they don't necessarily see an instant resumption of the easier Barack Obama years. Though tone and style would shift overnight, policy substance on issues from China to Russia to trade could take longer to overhaul.

"I don't expect that, if we have a new president, everything will just fall into place," said Reinhard Buetikofer, a trade expert for the Greens in the European Parliament.

At best, if Biden wins, Buetikofer sees a chance for"revisiting and reforming multilateralism" after years of open U.S. hostility to institutions from NATO and the EU to the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization.

There are areas where frictions created by Trump could disappear as soon as Trump does: on climate policy, for example, a President Biden is likely to jump straight back into the Paris climate change accord that Trump quit.

The WTO trade dispute mechanism that has collapsed because of a U.S. veto of the appointment of judges could be put back together quickly.

European countries that have prized Western unity in rebuffing Russian advances in Ukraine will no longer have to worry that the president of the United States will invite Vladimir Putin to a G7 summit without consulting them, as Trump did last month.

"We would review all of the decisions that President Trump has taken," Antony Blinken, Biden's senior adviser on foreign policy, told Reuters, referring specifically to Trump's threat in recent weeks to withdraw U.S. troops from Germany.

IRAN, CHINA, TRADE

But there are also issues where a Biden presidency may not be able to simply pick up where Obama left off.

On Iran, for example, Europe has spent the past three years trying to salvage an Obama-era agreement to lift sanctions in return for curbs on Tehran's nuclear programme. But so much has happened since Trump abandoned the pact in 2018, and so much has unravelled, it may be too late to save it.

And there are other issues where Europe and the United States have real differences that are not going to be simple to resolve, even with a friendlier figure in the White House.

On China, Biden's team wants to take a closer look at the security implications of Beijing's investment in European infrastructure such as ports, said Julianne Smith, a former Obama-era national security official advising Biden's campaign.

Biden is not expected to be any happier than Trump was about European countries' plans to incorporate technology from China's Huawei, the world's biggest telecoms equipment maker, in their next generation mobile phone networks.

On trade, while Biden is not likely to be as trigger happy as Trump has been to impose tariffs on allies, there are serious disputes. Germany, for example, wants to help the exports of its big car manufacturers.

With the elections months away, European countries are still working on their own issues with the U.S. administration.

In the Netherlands, that means discussing whether Dutch chipmaker ASML should have a license to export technology to China. In France, the focus is on plans to tax big, mostly American tech companies, after Washington scuppered global talks.

European countries with nationalist leaders that have enjoyed warmer ties with Trump may use the next few months to consolidate diplomatic gains. Poland aims to solidify plans for a "Fort Trump" - a long sought-after base of U.S. troops.

But any big changes in the trans-Atlantic relationship will have to wait at least until November, said the Paris-based ambassador of a large EU country, predicting a "moment of confrontation" if Trump should win another term.

"Everybody is keeping their fingers crossed and will wait."

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

22 Comments
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Why on earth would anyone want to restore ties with China.

Trump is a horrible president, but if there is anything good coming out of his presidency it has been his insistence on cutting the cord with China. The government of China is horrific and western nations should be doing their utmost to sever all ties, not improve relations with such an insane regime.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Once sanity returns to D.C., sanity will return to our relations with the rest of the world.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

It's not only Europeans who want to see the back of Trump. On the day of his defeat, there will be national holidays world wide - and the biggest ones will be in the U.S.A. 

Invalid CSRF

7 ( +7 / -0 )

It's not only Europeans who want to see the back of Trump. On the day of his defeat, there will be national holidays world wide - and the biggest ones will be in the U.S.A. 

Until liberals mess everything up and another conservative rescues the nation. So I personally hope that when into his second term European leaders will just have to stomach taking care of themselves and not have one hand in the pocket of the US.

-11 ( +0 / -11 )

NATO will heal after the Diaper Dictator is gone.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

bass4funkToday  12:31 pm JST

So I personally hope that when into his second term European leaders will just have to stomach taking care of themselves and not have one hand in the pocket of the US.

Quite right. It's not as if anyone else in the world really needs the US for anything. If you all decide to p*** off back to wherever you came from and take your grubby, tainted money with you, good riddance as far as I'm concerned.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Every GOP administration in the last 50 years has done serious damage to U.S. foreign relations every time they are in power.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I think Europe needs to get its own house in order or disband. Having a common currency but no common eurobond is fundamentally flawed. The fact that the UK underwent the pain of leaving the EU shows what a mess it is. Unfortunately, Biden does not have the ballz to take on China like Trump so a Biden presidency will be very bad in that regard.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Quite right. It's not as if anyone else in the world really needs the US for anything.

Yeah, you do, you need our money, if you didn’t, world leaders wouldn’t ask us why they should pay more for NATO or have a conniption about the US leadership roles, technology, computers, Apple, Windows, TV, I could go on, but no need to. When the US sneezes everyone catches a cold.

If you all decide to p*** off back to wherever you came from and take your grubby, tainted money with you, good riddance as far as I'm concerned.

You want us to return to England?

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

I think Europe needs to get its own house in order or disband. Having a common currency but no common eurobond is fundamentally flawed. The fact that the UK underwent the pain of leaving the EU shows what a mess it is. Unfortunately, Biden does not have the ballz to take on China like Trump so a Biden presidency will be very bad in that regard

Bingo!

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

bass4funk

Yeah, you do, you need our money, if you didn’t, world leaders wouldn’t ask us why they should pay more for NATO or have a conniption about the US leadership roles, technology, computers, Apple, Windows, TV, I could go on, but no need to. When the US sneezes everyone catches a cold.

America does not spent that much on NATO whose actual budget is about $2 million with the USA paying about 20%.

You confuse national defense spending with NATO contribution. The amount spent by American in Europe is very small when compared to its huge defense budget.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

bass4funkToday  08:57 pm JST

"Quite right. It's not as if anyone else in the world really needs the US for anything."

Yeah, you do, you need our money...

Garbage. There's nothing America currently provides that the rest of the world could either do without or produce for itself.

You want us to return to England?

Why, are you or any of the Americans that you know living overseas actually from England?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Yeah, you do, you need our money...

Garbage. There's nothing America currently provides that the rest of the world could either do without or produce for itself.

If Trump has done one thing for the rest of the world, it's to expose our systematic flaws in depending on America for anything. Fortunately, he's also started the process of disconnecting America from the rest of the world - it makes it easier for the rest of the world to disconnect from America.

I think we'll see the American economy plummet sink accordingly over the next couple of decades, as companies and countries start to build alternative supply lines, that cut out America, ensuring their stability.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Garbage. There's nothing America currently provides that the rest of the world could either do without or produce for itself.

“Money,”just wait if Biden does become President and the economy tanks further(and it will) you guys will be in trouble as well.

“Our principal finding after having interviewed 60 officials on both sides of the Atlantic, is that the single greatest challenge NATO faces is the absence of strong principled American presidential leadership for the first time in its history.

Oops....

https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-04-03/america-has-been-nato-s-helm-70-years-can-it-survive-without-us-leadership

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Europe needs America, and America needs Europe. 25th Anniversary of Srebrenica Massacre in 1992 when Clinton was president.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I meant, "There's nothing America currently provides that the rest of the world couldn't either do without or produce for itself."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I meant, "There's nothing America currently provides that the rest of the world couldn't either do without or produce for itself."

https://voxeu.org/article/understanding-global-role-us-economy

Because of its size and interconnectedness, developments in the US economy are bound to have important effects around the world. The US has the world’s single largest economy, accounting for almost a quarter of global GDP (at market exchange rates), one-fifth of global FDI, and more than a third of stock market capitalisation. It is the most important export destination for one-fifth of countries around the world. The US dollar is the most widely used currency in global trade and financial transactions, and changes in US monetary policy and investor sentiment play a major role in driving global financing conditions (World Bank 2016).

Now that’s “not” to say we don’t need the world, but the world most “definitely” needs us.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

."...but the world most “definitely” needs us."

For now. However I think that if the world suddenly had to do without America it would find ways to manage. It might be hard but I don't think it would be a terrible disaster.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Now that’s “not” to say we don’t need the world, but the world most “definitely” needs us.

What you described is the old world, pre-Trump.

Nothing in your quote showed why the world needs the US. It only shows our failures in being intertwining ourselves with the US in the ways you posted.

Trump triggered a disconnect of the US from the rest of the world, and the rest of the world is following his lead by disconnecting from the US.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

StrangerlandToday  09:33 am JST

Nothing in your quote showed why the world needs the US.

Indeed. It's all a lot of meaningless abstractions. We will never be hurting for a lack of American natural resources, finished products, labour or know-how, especially not in Europe. We certainly don't need US military forces everywhere, especially not when they make every situation that they get involved in worse, all the way back to WW1.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

America and Europe need each other especially if they want to reduce trade with China. America and the other NATO countries have kept peace in Europe for 70 years and it also send a warning to the Russian bear of not thinking of crossing the line.

Trump isn't America. He's a president whose terms will end someday.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Until liberals mess everything up and another conservative rescues the nation.

Yeah but what about that trump, he’s a real loser.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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