Editorial of the “World”. Diplomacy is back. In five days of serial summits, that of the G7 in Carbis Bay, in Great Britain, from June 11 to 13, followed by that of NATO in Brussels, on the 14, then of a meeting European Union – United States on the 15th, Joe Biden sealed the transatlantic reunion. They strengthen him against the Russian President, Vladimir Poutine, whom he meets on Wednesday June 16, in Geneva. Failing to completely erase the disastrous mandate of Donald Trump, these meetings and the numerous bilateral talks which accompanied them have at least made it possible to reforge a unity of Western democracies around common interests.
The US president had booked his first overseas trip to Europe, for good measure, after receiving two Asian leaders, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, in Washington. . The same concern drives the White House’s desire to “Revitalize” the link with the traditional allies of the United States, whether they are from Asia or Europe: the need to counter the assertion of China as a rival power and the wish to do so as a whole.
Friendly and attentive to his European colleagues, avoiding annoying formulas in press conferences, eager to re-engage in a constructive dialogue on climate, trade and international taxation, Joe Biden has spared no effort to show that he wanted to turn the page on the Trump era. But, apart from the fact that his team’s doctrine on how Europe and the United States must face new strategic challenges together has not yet been fully finalized, it will take a little more time, and concrete actions, to democratic president to convince Europeans that this positive approach is solid. American democracy has revealed its fragility, and its allies remain scalded by the damage caused by the Trump presidency.
The agreement reached on Tuesday between the European Union and the United States on public aid to the aeronautics sector, which ends a seventeen-year dispute between Boeing and Airbus and makes it possible to lift American trade sanctions, is a good beginning, but it also shows the limits of transatlantic reconciliation: it is only a truce and punitive customs duties are suspended for only five years.
On major international issues, this tour made it possible, if not totally overcoming them, to clarify the differences in sensitivity between Washington and the Europeans. Being able to exhibit them without turning into a drama is undeniable progress. It is regrettable, however, that this constructive atmosphere in the G7 has not resulted in initiatives equal to the urgency in the fight against climate change or global access to the vaccine against the Covid-19.
At NATO, Joe Biden succeeded in forcing a substantive discussion on China, now described as “Systemic challenge” for the Atlantic Alliance. Here again, this is only the beginning: the differences between Americans and Europeans on the strategy to be adopted in the face of the Chinese challenge, and on the possible role of NATO, which, as President Macron rightly pointed out, was conceived as a Euro-Atlantic alliance, are real. It is now up to the White House to integrate the concerns of Europeans in the development of its foreign policy, if it relies on their cooperation. And it is up to Europeans to hold a united and coherent line.