24th Nov 2020

EU politicians wary of US even if Biden wins

  • Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden with German chancellor Angela Merkel in pre-election times (Photo: state.gov)

Several EU politicians have cautioned against thinking the US would make a full U-turn toward Europe even if Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden wins.

They spoke as vote counting continued in the US on Thursday (4 November), with Biden continuing to inch toward a win in the last remaining swing states.

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In Nevada, Biden's lead increased to some 11,000 votes, with just 16,000 left to count, while a state court threw out Republican Party president Donald Trump's legal challenge for a recount.

In Pennsylvania, Biden trailed by just 23,000, with over 200,000 left to tally.

And in Georgia, Trump's lead was less than 2,000, with some 16,000 left to count.

The pro-European Biden needed victory in any one of the three to secure the White House, while the anti-European Trump needed to win them all, as well as North Carolina, where he did have a more commanding lead.

The final result is now likely to come on Friday.

But for his part, Trump continued to raise fears that he would not concede even if he lost, by alleging pro-Biden fraud in a White House press conference and in irate tweets, with increasing numbers of pro-Trump protesters taking to the streets across the country.

Several US broadcasters, such as MSNBC and CNBC, cut off coverage of his White House speech in mid-sentence, with MSNBC, for one, saying: "It was not rooted in reality - and at this point, where our country is, it's dangerous".

Social media firms also flagged his comments for being untrue, while Facebook took down a group of more than 350,000 Trump fans called "Stop the Steal" for its use of violent rhetoric.

Brexit hopes

Meanwhile, back in Europe, the Irish finance minister Paschal Donohoe voiced confidence that Biden would help the EU secure a robust, post-Brexit trade deal with the UK, protecting Irish interests.

"It's fair to say that ... Biden does have a very strong appreciation of a number of issues within Ireland, particularly the importance of the Good Friday Agreement and the consequences that Brexit could have on that agreement," he told Irish broadcaster RTÉ, referring to a peace accord in 1998 which ended sectarian violence.

Biden has also pledged to undo Trump's decision to leave the so-called Paris Agreement on fighting climate change.

But other EU politicians were not so sure that Biden would fully reverse Trump's policies on other issues ranging from Nato solidarity, to nuclear non-proliferation and free trade, as well as the importance of multilateralism in general.

Biden would likely continue to make demands on EU nations to spend more on defence to keep Nato together, but would "probably only present them differently in tone and style," German centre-right MEP David McAllister said.

"I'm certain that the Biden administration will not just sign up to the agreement [on Iranian nuclear non-proliferation]" that Trump walked out of, but would call for extra restrictions on Iranian missile programmes and terrorist sponsorship, David O'Sullivan, the former EU ambassador to the US, told an event organised by the Politico news agency.

On trade, German centre-left MEP Bernd Lange said: "I am convinced that we can achieve, here and there, some trade-facilitation measures, but there won't be a comprehensive agreement" like the so-called TTIP deal negotiated before Trump came to power, due to "strong competitive differences".

US introversion

EU politicians also warned that if Biden won, he would inherit a politically and socially divided America that would prevent him from conducting the same kind of foreign policy as in the pre-Trump era.

There would be no return to "the good old times" due to America's "internal crisis", French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

"He [Biden] will struggle to impose his agenda. This is going to lead to a very introverted America focusing very much on domestic politics and domestic concerns," O'Sullivan also warned.

"We have heard the groundswell of opinion polls, of media, especially in Europe, announcing the end [of Trump's politics], with a very large gap in favour of Joe Biden. But, I think, you have to be aware of the situation in the United States, which is very divided geographically," EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders told Belgian radio.

"From now on, we must look at how Europe can work with emerging powers that are difficult to manage such as Russia, China, or India ...This is probably a role that the EU should take on: promoting multilateralism in the face of an American retreat," Reynders said.

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