MEPs see upcoming Biden visit to Europe as chance to reinvigorate transatlantic relations

US President Joe Biden will embark on his first overseas trip in office in June with the aim of demonstrating his administration’s commitment to the transatlantic alliance and reengagement with key allies.
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By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

05 May 2021

Biden will attend the Group of Seven summit in Cornwall, England, from June 11-13, followed by a visit to Brussels, where he will hold meetings with European Union leaders, including Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, presidents of the European Commission and Council respectively.

He has also been invited to speak at a plenary session of the European Parliament.

The President will attend the June 14 NATO summit and hold additional one-on-one meetings in Brussels with NATO allies, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Biden said on Tuesday he would also like to hold his proposed summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his June trip to Europe.

A Commission source said, “This trip will highlight his commitment to restoring alliances and revitalising the Transatlantic relationship.”

This was the message echoed by MEPs asked by this website what they hope the visit will achieve.

Senior Socialist member Pedro Marques told The Parliament Magazine, “The harsh relations stimulated by the previous US Administration is now left behind.”

“President Biden’s visit to Brussels in June will be another key step in deepening the transatlantic bond” David McAllister, chair of Foreign Affairs Committee

The Portuguese member said, “We welcome President Biden’s visit and have high expectations for its outcomes. The EU and USA can now work together towards ambitious common goals, such as the fight against the pandemic, the global economic recovery, and the climate crisis.”

Further comment came from David McAllister, who chairs the influential foreign affairs committee in Parliament, who also told this site, “President Biden’s visit to Brussels in June will be another key step in deepening the transatlantic bond.”

The German deputy went on, “The COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines, our cooperation on climate action, the future of our economic relations and pressing geopolitical issues require a regular and trustful personal exchange.”

Hilde Vautmans, Renew Europe’s coordinator for foreign affairs, said, “The US is back as a responsible and reliable ally on the international scene, which is good both for multilateralism and for liberal democracy in the world.”

“The upcoming EU-US summit in June provides a good opportunity to formally acknowledge that a new chapter in EU-US relations has started and for us to reconfirm that the US is our partner of choice,” the Belgian deputy added.

EPP Group leader Manfred Weber said his group had invited President Biden to address the plenary when he visits next month, adding, “Right now it is not on his agenda but we do reiterate our invitation as speaking to the European Parliament will be the best way to symbolise for Europeans that the new President wants to renew our common ties.”

Biden, then Vice-President, addressed a meeting of Parliament on a visit to Europe in May 2010. His address to Parliament in Brussels came almost 25 years to the day after President Ronald Reagan also addressed MEPs, on 8 May 1985, to mark the 40th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe.

“We welcome President Biden’s visit and have high expectations for its outcomes. The EU and USA can now work together towards ambitious common goals, such as the fight against the pandemic, the global economic recovery, and the climate crisis” Pedro Marques, S&D

On next month’s visit, The Left group co-chair Martin Schirdewan said, “After G7, Biden will travel immediately to the NATO summit. There is a fear that he will not only want to reinvigorate transatlantic relations, but also push NATO back into Cold War-era struggles.”

The German member added, “The Left stands for diplomatic relations with Russia and China - and not on conditions laid down by the Cold War.”

Biden, at this year's NATO summit, will also affirm America’s “commitment to...Transatlantic security and collective defence,” according to the statement by the White House, which also said the EU-US summit in Brussels will “underscore our commitment to a strong Transatlantic partnership based on shared interests and values.”

Most recent American presidents have selected North American neighbours for their first cross-border trips, though former President Donald Trump, whose harsh criticism of the NATO alliance unsettled America’s EU allies, made his first overseas stop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

For Biden, the first trip is meant to turn the page from Trump’s approach to alliances.

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