– by Andreas Rinke and Luke Baker
Berlin / Brussels (Reuters) – The more anger in US and US President Donald Trump grows in Europe and Germany, the greater the hopes among Trump’s critics for Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election in early November.
After all, the Democrat is at the forefront in polls and fueled hopes of many US allies for a change of course in Washington. Biden announced that he would immediately revise Trump’s decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO) after an election victory. His foreign policy advisor Antony Blinken also said that Biden would stop the withdrawal of 9,500 US soldiers from Germany. “We would review all decisions President Trump made,” Blinken said in an interview with Reuters.
Experts see a whole range of areas in which the strained transatlantic relationship could improve again – and an at least partial reversal of Trump’s policy is likely to take place.
REORIENTATION IN ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, REVIVAL OF THE WEST
“There may be a turning point in environmental and energy policy,” said the US expert at the German Society for Foreign Affairs (DGAP), Josef Braml, to Reuters. A US President Biden would probably rely heavily on renewable energy – “and thus only understand what the markets have long been doing, namely the move away from fossil fuels,” said Braml. However, Braml warned Europeans not to look too closely at symbolic acts such as a return of the United States to the Paris climate protection agreement. Because even Barack Obama as president had not ratified this agreement by the US Congress.
In general, the US can expect a revival of multilateral policy if the president changes, for example in the G7 and G20 format, explains Braml. The reason for this is that the G7 group could again feel that they represent common democratic values. In view of Trump’s “authoritarian temptations”, this was no longer the case. Green trade expert Reinhard Bütikofer sees at least the opportunity for a “revitalization and reform of multilateralism”.
DIFFERENCES IN TRADE MAY STAY, REQUIREMENT WITH NATO
There could be at least a partial change in trade policy. “The most important thing would be for the US to appoint judges to make the World Trade Organization work again,” said DGAP expert Braml. However, he warned against illusions in the retail sector. “I continue to expect American protectionism under a democratic president.” In fact, Biden had aggressively taken a “Buy American” position in campaign appearances. A return to negotiations on a transatlantic free trade and economic agreement like TTIP is not expected.
EU diplomats are expecting a more NATO-friendly position in security policy not only because of the announced revision of the withdrawal plans. “But it would not change under Biden either that the USA demand more ‘burden sharing’ from the European allies,” Braml emphasizes.
DIFFICULT TO USE CHINA
Differences with China are likely to remain. Because both Republicans and Democrats have a critical position against the rising world power in the US Congress. “We want to have a discussion with our European allies on some of the challenges China faces for transatlantic security,” said Julianne Smith, a former Obama administration foreign policy advisor who is now advising the Biden team. This included “vulnerability” to Chinese control over ports in the EU. The hard position regarding the use of Chinese technology in the modern 5G mobile network is also likely to be controversial.
Tensions with the federal government are also likely to remain in the dispute over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline through the Baltic Sea, which is supposed to pump Russian gas to Western Europe. Again, resistance in Washington is cross-party.
The foreign policy spokesman for the Union, Jürgen Hardt, warns against being too happy that Biden is ahead of Trump in polls. In Berlin, neither Trump’s election nor Brexit were expected in 2016. “So the federal government is a burnt child. So it is better to prepare to work with Trump for another four years,” the CDU politician told Reuters.