19th Apr 2021


A renewed EU-US relationship for a positive global change

  • 'It is a high time to bridge existing gaps by launching a transatlantic exchange program for students and scholars from the EU member states and the US' (Photo: Renew Europe)

Finally a new wind is blowing through Washington DC. And not a moment too late.

With every division Donald Trump raised within the transatlantic partnership – over Nato, Syria, arms control, relations with Russia and China or the existence of the EU as such - he showed how much weaker we are when divided.

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With every step to undo the multilateral framework – on the Paris Agreement, Iran, the World Trade and Health Organizations – he only highlighted the lack of alternatives.

The transatlantic relationship is still our best chance to defend our values and interests, and now that he's gone, we have a renewed chance to do so.

But that in itself is not enough. Trump's retirement is a relief, not a solution.

It will take a lot of effort to rebuild a transatlantic partnership fit for purpose. It needs to be recalibrated and turned into a relationship between equals, based on mutual respect and full reciprocity. That was not always the case in recent years, and it wasn't all Trump's fault.

The Renew Europe Group in the European Parliament adopted its policy paper on the future of EU-US relations, with ideas to further develop the transatlantic partnership. More than any other in global politics, it is based on shared values.

Setting global standards

With a new administration in Washington, it's time to start working on a renewed and stronger transatlantic partnership, as many of the Biden Administration policies are likely to align with European positions.

We need to deepen our strategic partnership and tackle today's global challenges together, untap the economic potential of our bilateral relationship and seek new areas for international cooperation that will shape the future.

The Biden era offers an opportunity to promote liberal democracy together, as shown in the president's proposal to host a Global Summit for Democracy. That implies making the most of shared interests and views, and being better at finding solutions when divergences persist.

The US is our main security partner. The transatlantic alliance remains fundamental for the security of the European continent and we are determined to support and continue to encourage the development of EU-Nato cooperation.

The EU should strengthen its military capabilities, invest in military mobility and pave the way for a solid strategic autonomy, as a stronger Europe means a stronger Nato.

Our common efforts should focus on issues such as 5G, emerging technologies, arms control, trade, nuclear disarmament, taxation including digital, climate change, energy security, the fight against disinformation, multilateralism and counter-terrorism.

The European Union and the US face a number of challenges, from climate change to reform of the global trading system and the need to tackle security threats, as well as the spread of disinformation and foreign interference in electoral and democratic processes.

EU-US relations should include a coordinated approach towards China and Russia, support for democratic reforms in the Eastern Partnership countries and the Western Balkans, stabilisation of MENA countries and the Middle East region, and cooperation on space policy, among other.

We welcome the positive steps taken by president Biden on climate and we believe that Europeans and Americans can develop common objectives on sustainable finance, nature preservation, the transformation of our economies towards climate neutrality, and a greener trade.

With regard to trade, the EU and the US have the most integrated economic relationship in the world. It is also the largest and deepest bilateral trade and investment relationship. The bilateral trade in goods and services accounts for over 1 trillion euros per year.

The United States and the EU are each other's largest source and destination for foreign direct investment.

The Covid-19 crisis has only reinforced the need for closer cooperation. A strong relationship is mutually beneficial for consumers, workers, businesses and investors.

The EU-US trade cooperation must be based on our common values and objectives, such as the fight against climate change, the implementation of the Paris Agreement as well as the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

It is also of great strategic value as trade and security interests become more interwoven, in particular with the emergence of new technologies and the strategic challenges posed by China and other actors.

The EU and the US should take the lead in promoting multilateralism and the rules-based trading system by taking initiatives to create a global level-playing field, in particular focussing on resolving China's unfair trade practices such as unfair subsidies and state-owned enterprises.

It is also necessary that the EU and the US find a lasting solution to the Airbus-Boeing dispute, and other trade irritants, and remove additional tariffs on aircraft and the agri-food sector.

In the meantime, we should untap the potential our economic relationship and create new opportunities. For instance, we need to promote talks on trade and technology and shape the rules for the future by taking the lead in developing international standards for emerging technologies, including but not limited to artificial intelligence (AI), cyber-security and digital technologies.

Renew Europe strongly supports the idea of a transatlantic agreement on AI to develop new standards and ethical guidelines for Artificial Intelligence.

The EU and the US should also enhance mutual access to service markets, as well as work together on public procurement and improve access to public procurement markets.

We should continue our dialogue and cooperation to adopt common approaches to antitrust enforcement.

Beyond economics

Law enforcement and security cooperation between the two transatlantic powers is key to keep our citizens safe.

The US is one of the EU's most important partners in the fight against serious crime and terrorism. The sharing of best practices between the transatlantic partners can boost efforts to combat violence, hatred and discrimination and ensure that LGBTIQ rights are upheld.

The transatlantic bond should also be reflected in close relations among the US and European societies. It is a high time to bridge existing gaps by launching a transatlantic exchange program for students and scholars from the EU Member States and the US.

The European Commission must ensure the implementation of its proposed EU-US agenda for global change, consolidate the transatlantic partnership in the key areas mentioned and work towards a joint EU-US approach to maintaining, strengthening and protecting the international order and our shared values on the international stage.

The state of the international rules-based system is predicated on the ability of the EU and the US to continue to grow their partnership, solve their differences, and continue to uphold, on the global stage, the values and principles they share and on which they are founded on.

Together, the EU and the US can achieve a great positive change at global level that will benefit people far beyond both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

A renewed EU-US relationship

Author bio

Hilde Vautmans MEP is Renew Europe group coordinator in the Foreign Affairs Committee. Renew Europe MEP Nicolae Ștefănuță is vice-chair of the delegation for relations with the US. Renew Europe MEP Liesje Schreinemacher is shadow rapporteur on EU-US trade relations and member of the delegation for relations with the US.


This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

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