New US administration an opportunity to ‘rebuild’ EU-US transatlantic partnership, says David Sassoli

Joe Biden’s participation at EU summit interpreted as clear signal of Washington’s reengagement with EU.
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By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

29 Mar 2021

European Parliament’s President David Sassoli says the defeat of Donald Trump in the US election gives the EU and US a chance to “rebuild” the flagging transatlantic partnership.

Sassoli’s comments came on the day Jo Biden, the new US president, took part remotely in an EU summit.

Biden also attended the virtual meeting of EU leaders on Thursday in an effort to repair ties with the EU after the strained relationship between the bloc and his predecessor, Donald Trump.

Many EU leaders were critical of Donald Trump's decisions to pull the US out of the Paris climate Change agreement and the Iran nuclear deal.

Speaking to journalists at a press conference, Sassoli said, “The previous administration was committed to dividing Europe and dividing the US from Europe.

“Had we been able to tackle the pandemic together we would now have been stronger.

“Transatlantic relations are extremely important and this now needs to be relaunched.”

As well as Trump, he also signalled out China for criticism over its decision to impose sanctions on five MEPs and some EU bodies, such as the Parliament’s human rights subcommittee.

He told reporters, “China has made a huge mistake.”

“The previous administration was committed to dividing Europe and dividing the US from Europe. Had we been able to tackle the pandemic together we would now have been stronger. Transatlantic relations are extremely important and this now needs to be relaunched” European Parliament President David Sassoli

Earlier, in a speech to EU leaders attending the summit, Sassoli said he was “concerned at the growing trend towards authoritarianism and the many moves to destabilise democracy. These are developments we must take seriously.”

He added, “Attempts are being made to steer our recovery plan in certain directions, in a clear bid to undermine our independence.”

“At the beginning of this week, the Chinese Government imposed sanctions on five MEPs, our Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Political and Security Committee, simply because they expressed their views in the exercise of their democratic duty.”

“Soon we will be discussing the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment. As always, Parliament will take great care to ensure that the imperatives of free trade do not outweigh human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

On relations with the Biden administration, he added, “Renewed cooperation between the EU and the new administration in Washington will help lend impetus to our global leadership. We recognise how necessary this is, in the interests of our society.”

In a tweet, German Socialist MEP Bernd Lange said Biden’s “presence” at the European Council “shows clear reengagement from the US towards the EU as its most important ally.”

He added, “The transatlantic partnership is back,” said Lange, a member of the Parliament’s Committee on International Trade.

In a speech to the summit council president Charles Michel welcomed the US decision to bring America back to the Paris Agreement saying this was “wonderful news.”

He added, It’s music to our ears. And we support the Earth Day summit the US will convene next month.”

Michel said the Biden presidency could boost transatlantic relationship, adding, “We are united in our assessment. This is a historic opportunity to re-energise our cooperation. And deepen our historic bond.”

Biden's video conference came a day after his top diplomat Antony Blinken wrapped up a visit to Brussels. He spoke of the threat from Russia and China saying the US had rolled out a new tougher line against several regimes around the world.

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