WASHINGTON – The November 10 meeting between Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and US President Joe Biden was reputedly positive and productive. After that, von der Leyen said that “expansion of sanctions” against Belarus should be expected in the coming week. attempt pushing migrants across the border with Poland, apparently in response to EU sanctions.
Von der Leyen said that she and Biden “absolutely share the same assessment” and that the American president agrees that Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko is waging a “hybrid attack” against the European Union. Von der Leyen also argued that Biden supports the EU’s position on Northern Ireland: namely, that the UK should not suspend the Northern Ireland Protocol, which was intended to avoid a hard border with the EU on the island of Ireland after Brexit.
Her visit followed a number of positive developments in US-EU relations. At the G20 meeting in Rome from October 30 to October 31, they announced the suspension of the steel and aluminum tariffs imposed during Donald Trump’s presidency, which marked a turning point in trade.
This is a welcome change for those with a strong US-EU relationship. Relations were bad during the Trump era, and despite Biden’s assurances that “America is back,” tensions have been observed in transatlantic relations in recent months, and many European officials have felt cheated by America’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
In particular, relations with France were uneasy. Paris felt like it was dazed the Aukus Defense Pact between the United States, Great Britain and Australia; and the cancellation of the Australian contract for the purchase of French submarines. And until this month, the United States has maintained travel bans for Europeans, although Americans can travel to EU member states starting this summer.
Thus, the last two weeks have been marked by an upsurge in US-EU relations. But American and European officials should remember that trouble lies ahead. The smoldering crisis in Bosnia, from which the Republika Srpska under the leadership of Milorad Dodik seems to be threatening to emerge, and the situation with Belarus will require cooperation between the United States and the European Union. Inevitably, there will be differences in the US approach to China and Russia.
Recent events serve as a welcome reminder that the United States and the European Union do know how to work together. But the fact that there is something surprising or reassuring about a good US-EU meeting is a reminder of how bad things can be. To name an alliance or partnership is one thing; acting as allies or partners is another.