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EU-US summit: a Promising Moment in Transatlantic Relations

Jun 16, 2021

The European Union and the United States are united by a common history and shared values. We have worked arm in arm to secure peace and prosperity, both for our own citizens, and for the people around the world. In times of crisis, Europeans and Americans have had each other’s backs.

Today, we find ourselves at a crossroads, facing challenges to the very foundations of our societies and values. Indeed, this is perhaps the most crucial period in transatlantic relations in a generation. Building upon the “New EU-US Agenda for Global Change” that the EU put forward in December, next week’s EU-US Summit is a call to leverage our collective strength, defend our common interests, and jointly provide global leadership.

Joint EU-US Action on Addressing Global Challenges

Our first shared priority is ending the COVID-19 pandemic and building a sustainable recovery. The EU has already secured €1.8 trillion in budgetary firepower, designed to relaunch Europe’s economy in a way that makes it greener, more digital, and more equitable. The Biden administration passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan in March. With these actions, the EU and the US will both be able to “build back better”.

In fighting the virus, our unmatched scientific capacity has been demonstrated through our partnership on vaccine development. The first vaccine approved for use in the EU and the US, BioNTech/Pfizer, was a joint effort by a European and an American pharmaceutical company. Together, we donate millions of doses of vaccines to low and middle-income countries, through the COVAX Facility and we will also support and strengthen the World Health Organization.

With COP26 only a few months away, the time has now come to shape a comprehensive and ambitious transatlantic green agenda, starting not only with a joint commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050, but also working side by side to getting the world’s major emitter to move further and faster. President Biden administration’s decision to rejoin the Paris Accord and to set ambitious targets to cut emissions is a welcome step.

Building a Transatlantic Economy for the Future

With a focus on reflecting both EU and US domestic priorities and interests, our economic relationship remains a big source of prosperity, a driver of innovation, and a testament to resilience. Millions of good jobs have been created across the Atlantic, and our 780 million consumers have benefited from the most profitable global economic artery in the world. But getting our economies moving again will require more than financial stimulus.

While trade irritants have always existed, it is in our mutual interest to address them in a cooperative spirit bearing in mind that it is others who will benefit from any divisions. We must restore trust in the World Trade Organization, while leading efforts to reform it.

Addressing International Security Challenges

We remain the two biggest human rights promoters in the world. We must remain vigilant in protecting democracy also at home, including through our commitment to social justice and racial and gender equality.

The EU and the US must join forces to counter the rise of authoritarianism, human rights abuses, and corruption. If we defeat the pandemic and restore economic activity in a way that helps our planet, this may be the most convincing case for our citizens that democracy truly delivers, and that populism and authoritarianism are not the answer.

The EU and the US remain the largest security and peace providers globally. We in the EU are committed to playing our part, by strengthening our capabilities in a way that is complementary and mutually reinforcing with NATO, notably through the establishment of Permanent Structured Cooperation. The U.S. and other close partners are already accompanying us on this journey.

On China, our approach is increasingly aligned, based on competition when unavoidable. Since the 2014 Ukraine crisis, the EU and the U.S. have also worked hand in hand to push back against Russia’s destabilising behaviour and to uphold the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. We stand ready to apply sanctions where necessary, in coordination where possible. At the same time, we should strive for cooperation when necessary and possible, and continue to engage on issues of our interest and as the situation merits.

The EU-US Summit is finally an opportunity to reaffirm jointly our support for a rules-based multilateral order. We will work to strengthen and reform multilateral institutions to ensure that they respond to current challenges.

We are under no illusion as to the scale of the challenges we face. At the EU-US Summit, we will be engaging with the Biden administration based on a simple tenet: we are stronger together.

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