Olivier Hostel / AP
President Biden will meet with top European Union officials in Brussels on Tuesday, the final part of his mission to improve relations with allies strained by his predecessor’s solo effort before meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in genf.
Biden will set up a trade and technology council during his meeting with Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission and Charles Michel, President of the European Council, to address some of the long-standing problems between the United States and the EU.
The high-level group will work on strategies for common standards for new technologies such as artificial intelligence and biotechnology, regulations for technology platforms and export controls, and proposals for reforming the World Trade Organization – all areas where China is a major challenge.
“The idea here is that the United States and Europe laid the groundwork for the global economy after World War II and must now work together to write the rules of the road for the next generation, particularly in business and new technology,” said a senior administrator reporters who travel with Biden.
Trade rules have long been a source of friction between the United States and the EU. But European allies were particularly offended when former President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on their steel and aluminum exports, saying the taxes were necessary to protect US national security.
These tariffs remain in effect. Biden said his government did not have enough time to work it out. When asked how he justified maintaining the Trump-era tariffs, Biden resisted. “A hundred and twenty days. Give me a break. I need time, ”he said.
Talks on the tariffs are ongoing but unlikely to be resolved quickly, the senior administration official told reporters ahead of the meeting.
This is one of many areas that the Biden government needs to flesh out in order to take advantage of its foreign policy approach.
“For Europe, China is a really important trade and economic partner,” so it is an achievement for President Biden to “make such tough statements about China at these two European summits,” from Heather Conley of @CSIS to @nickschifrin @NewsHour
– Judy Woodruff (@JudyWoodruff) June 14, 2021
While Biden brought allies on board in the G-7, NATO and the EU the concept of taking a tougher stance on China there are few details on how this will be done.
There may have been convergence that “China is the challenge of our time and that like-minded countries must work together,” said Bonnie Glaser, China expert at the United States’ German Marshall Fund.
However, some European countries remain concerned that excessive aggressiveness could backfire and affect trade and investment with Beijing. “We have seen a growing tendency in China to take revenge against countries that criticize it,” said Glaser.
And despite the “positive facade” and goodwill on Biden’s first tour, allies are wondering what they will see in the next or next administration, said Andrea Kendall-Taylor, who advised the Biden team on the transition to the White House.
“Members of the European Union are concerned that President Biden is an anomaly and that we could very easily revert to a Trump-like president who challenges alliances and the value of Europe,” said Kendall-Taylor, now from the Center for a new American security.
Biden and his team understand that once they return, they must better sell the benefits of their foreign policy. During his campaign, Biden talked about
“Everything we do in our foreign policy should ultimately be measured by whether it makes the lives of families in the United States better, safer and easier,” said the senior administrator.