The answer seems obvious. The election of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the US would be great news for the European Union, as it would hopefully herald a return to the “normal” in transatlantic relations, after a terrible period under Donald Trump, when the EU sometimes wasn’t sure if the US was a friend or a foe.
Until Trump was elected four years ago, many Europeans probably thought the US president would always be like a good Uncle Sam, a little stupid, someone they could influence and keep under control. Trump changed that paradigm.
And Biden offers the chance to forgive and forget four years of transatlantic deconstruction, which has also led to some unravelling of the EU’s own fabric.
Happily enough, with the exception of the UK (no longer in the EU), Trump-like politicians have not (yet) had the upper hand in the EU.
Creative disruption is probably fine in the business and artistic world, less so in such a serious matter as the transatlantic relation, which is the backbone of global security. This is why Europeans need not hesitate in choosing between predictability and the unforeseeable.
But America is split.
Biden, who has served as (lacklustre) Vice President under Barack Obama during his two mandates, represents what he calls the “moral and centred” voters of the divided United States, in opposition to Trump’s flamboyance and ruthlessness, so admired by his fans.
For those Americans who imagine their country as a company, Trump is a much better CEO than Biden.
But is the worst-case scenario for the Europeans – the re-election of Trump – such a bad thing after all?
It was “thanks” to Trump that Europe started reflecting on a more autonomous foreign policy, on the embryo of a European defence, on better preserving its economic interests vis-à-vis US-based multinationals.
A second Trump mandate would probably help achieve irreversible results in this epochal emancipation. Conversely, a Biden mandate could bring the EU back to the post-World War Two status quo.
Simply put, the EU needs to be ready to make the most of both options.
Biden as president opens an agenda of the return to multilateralism, with the US possibly re-adhering to the Paris Climate Agreement and the Iran nuclear deal, or embarking onto a meaningful reform of the World Trade Organisation.
With Trump as president re-elect, the EU may be pushed towards completing its strategic autonomy – not so much by choice, but by necessity.
And it may not be a bad thing, because multilateralism and strategic autonomy should go together.
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Look out for…
- European Parliament plenary session
- Commissioner Johansson participates virtually in the Conference on Europol
Views are the author’s