Biden´s half-year in the office: Is EU-US partnership strong again?
In the first half of June 2021, Joe Biden traveled to Europe to attend the G7 and NATO summits and meet Russian President Vladimir Putin. The US President’s rhetoric promised closer cooperation with foreign partners and a multilateral approach to international relations.
Is the new US president succeeding in fulfilling his election promises? How do his current policies affect the EU and transatlantic relations? Will President Biden be able to face the growing influence of China and threats from Russia? These questions were addressed by experts during a business breakfast organised by the European Liberal Forum, in cooperation with the Institute for Politics and Society and Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. The business breakfast was moderated by Irena Krcháková.
Irena Krcháková introduced the following speakers to discuss transatlantic relations: Jan Erik Surotchak, the Senior Director for Transatlantic Strategy at the International Republican Institute, and Tomáš Pojar, the Vice President for International Relations and Security at CEVRO Institute and a former Czech Ambassador to Israel. The differences between the American and Czech points of view allowed for a rich and informative debate.
Jan Erik Surotchak began by explaining that the situation will likely not change much under the new US administration. The US has always had a deep relationship with the EU, dating well before the election of President Biden. The US and the EU share a common model of political organisation – democracy. The new Biden administration is making multilateralism the basis of its international policy, thus strengthening transatlantic relations, Tomáš Pojar noted.
Transatlantic policy towards Russia and China was the second topic of debate. Issues related to China, Russia, and Ukraine are central to transatlantic negotiations, both experts affirmed. According to Tomáš Pojar, transatlantic discussions on these issues have increased over the past five years, and, until ten years ago, there were no transatlantic discussions at all. The issues of China and Russia are “on the table”, but it takes time to develop thorough policies on the matter.
Both speakers were then invited to discuss the challenge of China’s economic power in relation to the EU-US partnership. Both experts pointed out that the US and the EU must strengthen their soft power, especially in economic terms. For Jan Erik Surotchak, the transatlantic nations need to build strong relationships, especially in technology, to counter the Chinese economy. It is crucial to avoid buying Chinese technology and promote transatlantic technology, Tomáš Pojar highlighted. He also stressed the need to reinforce transatlantic technological competition. Otherwise, Europe will lose out to China.
Finally, the speakers discussed the situation in Ukraine concerning the Nord Stream 2 project. According to Jan Erik Surotchak, President Biden emphasized the fight against corruption because Ukraine has struggled with it in recent years. For Tomáš Pojar, “Ukraine is a battlefield” in this pipeline project. However, it is still too early to agree on the effect Nord Stream 2 will have on Ukraine, both experts concluded.
Irena Krcháková delivered her concluding remarks and invited the audience to continue analyzing the transatlantic relations at the Multiple Challenges for Transatlantic Partnerships conference held the same day.