The 6 major challenges facing Europe United States relations with Joe Biden in the White House: After an agonizing recount, Joe Biden has already proclaimed himself the winner of the US elections last Tuesday, November 3. The Democratic candidate can already count the days until January to occupy the Oval Office in the White House.
These hectic 4 years of legislature under the mandate of Donald Trump have strained, in many ways, the bilateral relations between the United States and the European Union. However, the departure of the tycoon from the US presidency does not imply that the negotiations between the two powers take a radical turn.
It will be rather gradual, as personalities such as the EU's own High Representative for Foreign Affairs and security policy, the Spaniard Josep Borrell, assume. Borrell himself, in an interview granted this same Monday in the chain Ser, acknowledged that relations will now be more fruitful and" more positive", although with some but.
These are the challenges the European Union will have to face now that a new chapter in Joe Biden's bilateral relations with the United States is opening.
Tariffs and trade wars
If anything has characterized Trump's tenure it has been enormous zeal with foreign economies. So much so that much of US foreign policy in recent years has been based on threats of new tariffs.
Perhaps the most paradigmatic example has been the intense trade war that the US and China waged in recent years. In March 2018, Donald Trump decided to raise tariffs on Chinese imports of steel and aluminum. China responded with an increase in taxes on 128 American products. That's where it all started.
6 major challenges facing Europe United States relations
As the conflict escalated, Europe was also hit. In October 2019, the US announced an increase in tariffs on European products in response to EU aid to Airbus. Although it is not a direct cause of this trade war, it was linked to the trade tension of recent months. Wine, oil or olives were some of the most affected Spanish products.
This summer, the U.S. Trade Representative's Office announced that it was maintaining these tariffs.
Although a change of political color in the White House opens the door to thinking of a de-escalation of this protectionist war, the EU's High Representative, Josep Borrell, is not so clear. In an interview on the SER Network this Monday he recalled that "the Democratic Party also has a protectionist ramshackle not negligible".
For now, the European Union has confirmed this Monday that it will impose import tariffs on the block of a number of products from the United States as compensation for the subsidies that Washington granted the company of the aeronautical sector Boeing, declared illegal by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The vice president of the European Commission responsible for trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, has confirmed that Brussels has already had the first "informal" contacts with Biden's team, with whom he hopes to advance a "positive" trade agenda, but for now from this Tuesday the new tariffs will come into force.
The Chinese question
As a result of this tension that has starred the United States and China, the Trump administration has also burned bridges with the Asian power. Huawei saw its agreement with Google to use its services and operating system go overboard, forced to develop its own OS for its mobile terminals. It has also lost a lot of contracts to install the infrastructure for 5G networks in several countries in the wake of Trump's constant accusations against the company.
Huawei has not been the only Chinese firm that has been affected by Trump. Bytedance, owner of TikTok, also starred in a skirmish this summer for which the US president warned that it gave until September 15 margin for an American company to be responsible for exploiting the business of this popular social network in North American territory.
It is not entirely clear whether Biden's arrival in the White House will mean that any of these measures will be reversed or whether, on the contrary, they will remain. If the latter happens, it is still early to discern whether the anti-Chinese attitude of the US government will be relaxed. But what is known is that several European countries have also deteriorated their relations with Chinese companies as a result of these movements.
The arrival of Trump to power meant that, de facto, the US was abandoning the Paris Agreement. He was the big absentee at COP25, the Climate Summit that was organized at the end of 2019 in Madrid. Trump has in recent years poured out more than one controversial and questionable statement about the reality of global warming and climate change.
On the other hand, Europe has been obsessed with making green policy one of its axes of action for the Legislature. Something that also happens in Spain. The coalition government has dedicated a vice-presidency to the Ecological Transition.
With the return of the Democrats to power, it is to be hoped that the US will resume its commitments to decarbonize the economy. Europe will have to stand still.
In Brexit, Boris Johnson loses his friend
The UK's departure from the European Union has been one of the most agonising issues of recent years. British President Boris Johnson is confident that the departure of his partner Trump, who had always considered himself his "friend", does not dynamite his road map.
London believes that there will be good cooperation with Biden after Brexit. Simon Coveney, Ireland's Foreign Minister, thinks otherwise. He believes Biden's victory could have an impact on the UK's exit from the EU. "Joe Biden is a true friend of Ireland, he is someone who in the middle of the election campaign devoted time to intervene clearly on the need to avoid a rigid (Irish) border," he defended in statements to the Irish broadcaster RTE.
Populism and misinformation
In France, Germany, the Czech Republic and Spain political parties have proliferated that capture the discontent of the population through populism and radical discourses. In Spain, for example, stand out the Catalan independence movement and the rise of Vox in Congress, which even filed a motion of censure against Sanchez a few weeks ago that, of course, did not prosper.
Populists use fake news to make their speech stand out. Trump has had several encounters with social networks as a result of the misinformation with which he sowed his chronology. Europe has created a framework for member countries to combat disinformation. Spain has already developed its regulatory framework, not without controversy, although it has finally had the approval of Brussels.
Europe will have to ensure that Biden's arrival in power means, de facto, that the Old Continent has a powerful ally to curb this problem. Anti-establishment politicians in Europe will "lose a lot", in the words of former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, to statements to CNBC.
Intimately linked with the case of Huawei or Bytedance, but with other protagonists. The European Union wants to regulate the big tech companies with its new Digital Services Law, which will be known later this year. The situation is so delicate that an internal document has even been leaked in which Google reveals what strategy it will follow to combat and disdain such regulation.
France and the Netherlands have already joined forces to this end, and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton have warned on multiple occasions that Europe must regain its digital sovereignty and not rely so much on big foreign technology companies.
In the same terms has defended the president of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, to accounts of the famous Google tax that will come into force in mid-January. The tax law on certain digital services will create a new tax for large technology companies that do not Bill and, in Sanchez's opinion, "distort" the market.
The same will happen, without leaving Spain, with the General Law of Audiovisual Communication, which puts the focus on that platforms like Netflix will also have to invest 5% of what they "generate" in markets like Spanish to finance European cinema.
The United States under Trump's mandate does not share the European view that these large corporations should be regulated. Of course, they are American companies. The rope tightened so much that US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin threatened new tariffs in case European countries implemented a Google tax on their own. In France there is the GAFA rate - by Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple-which has not yet entered into force for the same reason.
At the same time that in Europe the voices that defend the need to divide large corporations are multiplying, the United States is skeptical of this type of ideas. It is also not clear whether with Biden coming to power, this stance will vary an apex.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress has taken some cards on the issue through a macro-research to the big tech companies. None could avoid being accused of holding a monopoly in their respective markets.
6 major challenges facing Europe United States relations