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A Biden Victory Could Reset Transatlantic Relations

Many European pundits seem to think that a Democratic administration in the United States wouldn't change much about how the US has treated Europe since 2017. But if Joe Biden defeats President Donald Trump in November, the skeptics will find themselves pleasantly surprised.

NEW YORK – In his opening address to the European Council on Foreign Relations’ (ECFR) annual meeting, German Foreign Affairs Minister Heiko Maas claimed that regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election this November, Europeans “will have to think about how to better contain the conflicts in Europe’s vicinity, even without the US.”

His view is a popular one. Many European pundits, such as Janan Ganesh and Wolfgang Münchau of the Financial Times, have argued that US-EU relations would not change significantly even if a Democrat were to defeat US President Donald Trump. A Democratic president, the argument goes, would still be protectionist on trade, sympathetic to the American public’s supposed isolationist instincts, and equally unenthusiastic about writing checks to defend Europe. This description was initially applied to Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, despite their strong support for international cooperation and human rights. Now some Europeans are extending it to Joe Biden.

But the idea that Biden would bring no real change to US policy toward Europe beggars belief. Biden has always been a staunch transatlanticist, and over the course of his decades-long political career, he has forged close relationships with key European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. As vice president from 2009 to 2017, Biden was always available to provide personal diplomacy when President Barack Obama was not.

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