The European Union is setting out hopes for re-establishing a strong alliance with the United States even before president-elect Joe Biden has taken office, in a bid to move on from the Trump era and take on global challenges.
The bloc has proposed holding an EU-US summit after Mr Biden takes office in 2021 that would launch a new agenda for the two traditional allies, with proposals including vaccine co-operation, joint digital standards and tackling climate change.
“With our concrete proposals for co-operation under the future Biden administration, we are sending strong messages to our US friends and allies: ‘Let’s look forward, not back. Let’s rejuvenate our relationship,’ ” the EU’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said.
“Let’s build a partnership that delivers prosperity, stability, peace and security for citizens across our continents and around the world. There’s no time to wait – let’s get to work,” Mr Borrell said. “There is no more important and more strategic partner for the European Union than the US.”
The paper of proposals set out by the European Commission is due to be discussed by EU national leaders when they meet next week, and reflects widespread relief on the continent that relations can be restored after they were damaged by the presidency of Donald Trump.
Mr Trump described the EU as “a foe”, withdrew from multilateralism engagement, and equivocated on whether the US would come to the aid of fellow Nato members if they were attacked, undermining the alliance’s principle of collective defence.
The EU is hoping that once Mr Biden takes office, some of Mr Trump’s actions can be reversed, such as withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris agreement on global warming.
But there is acknowledgement that the EU-US relationship must be re-established on new terms and cannot be expected to revert to exactly how it was before, due to global shifts including the rise of China and a lack of public support in the US for overseas involvements and unlimited free trade.
“We should not embark on a nostalgic search for the global order of past decades or the transatlantic partnership of past generations,” the paper reads. “The US and the EU have changed, as have power dynamics and geopolitical and technological realities.”
Proposals include beginning talks to agree a common position on how to address “the strategic challenge presented by China’s growing international assertiveness” – an area in which the EU is more reluctant to entertain direct confrontation that Washington.
A significant part of the proposals concerns the tech industry: how to foster innovation, while co-ordinating regulation to safeguard data, limit monopolies and protect against harms such as mass disinformation. Part of this is a proposal to recommit to finding a global agreement on digital taxation, after the US halted negotiations in the OECD earlier this year.