To get the transatlantic relationship back and on track and to ensure that it will remain relevant in the future, the United States and the European Union should prioritize putting forward concrete ideas and taking actionable steps on climate and energy, democracy and human rights, and digital technology issues.
The question facing European leaders is accordingly not whether transatlantic relations will improve under Biden—they most certainly will, though some difficulties will also remain—but rather how to reinvent Atlanticism for a new era.
The conventional wisdom is that the special relationship between Washington and London will suffer a blow under President-elect Joe Biden. But that needn’t happen.
For U.S. allies and partners around the world, the United States will stop being an at times gratuitous antagonist, and the Biden-Kamala Harris administration will reinvigorate U.S. diplomacy, but Washington will remain a frustrating partner on important issues.
The real question facing European leaders is therefore not how to restore transatlantic relations to its pre-Trump days, but rather how to craft a new vision for the future—one where Washington may not always be in the driver’s seat and Europe is capable of taking on more responsibility.
The United States needs Europe to act as a genuine partner that can step up and out onto the world stage, on its own when necessary. For that to happen, Washington should change its traditional approach to the transatlantic alliance.
The time is ripe for a fresh appraisal of the transatlantic alliance. Can the United States and Europe rebuild their bonds in forward-looking and enduring ways?
Regardless of the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in November, how to address the rise of China and Beijing’s growing assertiveness post-COVID-19 will be one of the dominant issues in transatlantic relations under the next administration.
Having already deteriorated significantly since President Donald Trump assumed office in 2017, the transatlantic relationship is now at risk of being further weakened during the coronavirus.
The coronavirus pandemic has only made U.S. relations with Europe worse, but there is still time to right the ship.