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EU ambassadors have backed European Council President Charles Michel’s plan to bring Mr Biden over for an EU-US summit next year as part of an agenda to reset transatlantic relations while trying to make the bloc stronger and more autonomous.
If we join forces, we can change things. We can make things better
A briefing paper for the envoys said: “The arrival of a new administration and Congress is an opportunity for the EU to renew and reinvigorate its strategic partnership with the US based on mutual interests.
“The EU should agree a set of concrete priorities on which to engage the new US leadership.”
The European Commission is also keen to make new friends in Washington and is set to launch its own “EU-US agenda for global change”.
According to draft documents, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants to restore relations damaged during Donald Trump’s four years in the White House and also join forces with the new administration to tackle global issues.
The proposals are banking on Mr Biden’s support for international climate change initiatives.
The draft paper said: “The EU warmly welcomes President-elect Biden’s commitment to re-join the Paris Agreement and to set an ambitious updated contribution under the Paris Agreement.”
It also outlined EU hopes for a “shared transatlantic commitment to a net-zero emissions pathway by 2050” which “would make climate neutrality a new global benchmark in the run-up to COP26, the next UN Climate Change Conference, to be held in Glasgow next year”.
A senior Commission official said: “In the new relationship with the United States, what was important for us is that we are not passively sitting and waiting for the US administration to reach out.
“It’s a sensitive time for the United States. A lot of the advisers cannot get in touch with us until the elections are certified, they are very cautious.”
Brussels’ strategies underline optimism in Europe that a Biden presidency will mark a new chapter reinforcing EU priorities on combating climate change, nuclear proliferation and human rights.
Many European leaders looked on in horror when Mr Trump pulled out of the Paris climate change agreement and the deal between world powers and Iran limiting Tehran’s nuclear activities, imposed tariffs on EU goods and spurned multilateral bodies that Washington has backed for decades.
But one EU diplomat cautioned against any assumption Brussels and Washington would agree on all issues.
The diplomat said: “There will be a change of tone from Biden, but the tough US stance on China, the insistence that Europeans spend more on defence – they will remain.”
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Another official insisted the EU wanted to make sure Washington was fully aware of the bloc’s intention of being an equal partner with its own objectives.
He told Poltico: “The predominance of the US over the world is no longer a given. It’s still the most powerful nation in the world but there are strong competitors.
“The United States is no doubt the most important partner that the European Union has in the international sphere and an ally.
“Many things have changed. The US has changed. We have changed. The world has changed. But this fact does not change.
“The European Union and the United States together constitute a very powerful actor in the world. If we join forces, we can change things. We can make things better.”
EU leaders are expected to debate transatlantic relations when they convene for a summit on December 10 and 11.
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