European Union wants to move past Trump turmoil and challenge China together with Biden

Foreign Affairs

A paper by the European Commission, expected to be reviewed and possibly approved on December 10-11, proposes a U.S.-EU alliance to deal with challenges including China, the Financial Times reported.

U.S. and European Union flags are pictured during the visit of Vice President Mike Pence to the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

A week ago, when U.S. President-elect Joe Biden announced his nominees for key foreign policy posts, we reported that the main takeaway for China policy was this: Increased competition through allies.

Europe is eager to partner with a Biden-led America, to face challenges including, and perhaps especially, China. The Financial Times reports:

The EU will call on the U.S. to seize a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to forge a new global alliance, in a detailed pitch to bury the tensions of the Trump era and meet the “strategic challenge” posed by China…

The paper, prepared by the European Commission, says the EU-US partnership needs “maintenance and renewal” if the democratic world is to assert its interests against “authoritarian powers” and “closed economies [that] exploit the openness our own societies depend on.”

This language also matches up with that of Biden’s nominee for national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, who recently gave an interview with Politico and named his loftiest goal: “to rally our allies to combat corruption and kleptocracy, and to hold systems of authoritarian capitalism accountable for greater transparency and participation in a rules-based system.”

The EU also reportedly wants to work with the U.S. on issues such as data regulation, the “screening of sensitive foreign investments,” cyber security, the dissemination of COVID-19 vaccines, reform of the World Health Organization, and antitrust enforcement — though this would be the most tricky issue, as large American tech companies are in the crosshairs of European regulators.

The EU paper is “expected to be submitted for endorsement by national leaders at a meeting on December 10-11,” the FT says, setting the stage for an “EU-US Summit in the first half of 2021.”

Everyone is ready to move past Trump

“I’ll be honest: European Union — very, very difficult. The barriers they have up are terrible. Terrible. In many ways, worse than China,” Trump said about a year ago.

  • The adversarial tone to some of America’s closest allies across the Atlantic had been dutifully repeated by some of Trump’s longest-serving officials, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even reportedly spiked a joint G7 statement earlier this year because other members refused to use the term “Wuhan virus.”

Republican Senator Jim Risch, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is one of many prominent American politicians to call for more multilateral pressure on China since Trump lost reelection.

  • A report from the Republican majority of that committee, titled, “A Concrete Agenda for Transatlantic Cooperation on China,” says that the U.S. should “work with the EU to foster private-sector investments in the Indo-Pacific area, especially in infrastructure projects, and to ensure maritime security in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean,” the SCMP reports.
  • When the report was released, the committee’s top Democrat, Senator Bob Menendez, tweeted, “I welcome Chairman Risch’s report on the importance of working with our partners on China.”

Even some Trump officials have apparently tired of “America First” foreign policy. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that some senior officials want to “create an informal alliance of Western nations to jointly retaliate when China uses its trading power to coerce countries.”

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