MEPs welcome Joe Biden presidency as new era in transatlantic relationship

European Parliament urged to invite US president-elect to address MEPs.
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By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

13 Nov 2020

During a debate on the outcome of the US Election result on Wednesday, most MEPs gave a withering verdict on Donald Trump’s presidency and even Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, couldn’t resist having a dig at the outgoing president.

The EU’s High Representative said relations between Brussels and Washington had become strained under the Trump administration, telling MEPs, “It is no secret that in the past four years, things have become complicated in our relations and I am looking forward to getting back to a frank dialogue.”

The former Spanish MEP said there had been a “clear commitment” by President-elect Joe Biden “to restore unity and respect for democratic norms and institutions and to working with allies based on partnership.”

Borrell added, “I do not have to explain that we have had a very significant bilateral relationship globally. We have a common history, shared values and we adhere to democratic principles. This partnership reflects how we go across all economic fields, underpinned by wide cooperation.”

The transatlantic relationship remains a “priority” he said, adding that he had followed the election “with a lot of suspense” and noted it had been the biggest voter turnout “in US history.”

“This shows the public were aware of the importance of this election.”

He “warmly congratulated” Biden for a “historic victory” and it was now time to decide “how to manage a new era in the transatlantic relationship.”

“I hope divisions can be healed and the US will respect the multilateral rules based system. I welcome the decision to rejoin the Paris Agreement and to support the WTO. We must also stand up to China and the US will be a better partner if it stands firm against Russia” German EPP Group MEP Michael Gahler

Borrell said the US and EU faced several challenges, including “reenergising the multi-lateral flora”, in particular the UN.

Respect for human rights, fighting the pandemic and “accelerating an ambitious global climate action plan” are other priorities, he said. “We must also look at China and Iran with a view to reaching a common approach.”

Already referring to the “previous administration” he said he hopes Biden’s presidency will see a “stronger transatlantic relationship.”

He said, “We face a busy agenda and we can be more effective if both partners are committed.”

But he cautioned, “We still have to wait to 20 January (for the handover). This is a long transition so let us hope it is not a bumpy transition.”

German EPP group MEP Michael Gahler said, “It is important to have good relations with the US and the EU observers (to the election) said there is no evidence of any systematic irregularities or fraud.”

“We should invite Biden to deliver his first foreign address in the parliament.That would be appropriate as this is the heart of European democracy” Dutch Socialist Group MEP Kati Piri

He said, “I hope divisions can be healed and the US will respect the multilateral rules based system. I welcome the decision to rejoin the Paris Agreement and to support the WTO. We must also stand up to China and the US will be a better partner if it stands firm against Russia.”

“Biden has also made clear the importance of the Good Friday Agreement and I hope the U.S will not support any Brexit deal that jeopardises Irish peace.”

Dutch Socialist group deputy Kati Piri called for the Parliament’s authorities to invite the president-elect to address MEPs, “We should invite Biden to deliver his first foreign address in the parliament.”

That would be appropriate as this is the heart of European democracy.”

Piri said she was glad Biden has, so far, presented his policies and “not his ego” adding that the “past four years have been tough for America’s friends and also the multilateral order.”

The world had “watched in horror” the behaviour of Donald Trump but he, she said, had now “come crashing down.”

"We should welcome Biden with open arms now. Biden is a friend of Europe. I hope he tweets less than Trump and will be more polite But the EU must show that we mean business. It is time for the EU to stand on its own feet” Belgian Renew Europe Group deputy, Hilde Vautmans

The Biden presidency was a “clear symbol of hope for all of us and shows that, yes, democrats can defeat autocrats and that hope can defeat fear.”

She added, “The long nightmare is over, well nearly, because, worryingly, doubt has been cast on the fairness of the election. It is time for Trump to face reality because hope has won over an oppressive illiberalism. Trump has been fired by the majority of voters.”

She added, “The next 70 days will be bumpy but this will not change the outcome of the election”.

“This was the most important US election of our generation and while Trumpism has not gone away, it is good to have again an ally in the White House. I hope now that the damage done by Trump is reversible.”

Belgian Renew Europe group deputy Hilde Vautmans said “We all feel relieved at the result and an end to the relentless fake news and racism of Trump. We should welcome Biden with open arms now. Biden is a friend of Europe. I hope he tweets less than Trump and will be more polite”.

“But the EU must show that we mean business. It is time for the EU to stand on its own feet”.

GUE/NGL group co-leader in the European Parliament, Martin Schirdewan added, “Trump is now barricaded in the White House like a child but voters decided they wanted democracy back and the autocrat out. Even so, the dangers of Trumpism remain.”

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