“America is back. And we are happy to have you back.” For example, European Council President Charles Michel welcomed new US President Joe Biden to the EU leaders’ online summit.
It was the first time since 2014 that a US president again held direct consultations with EU leaders. Seven years ago, Barack Obama was in Brussels for an EU-US summit. Now the EU leaders had to make do with a face on a screen across the Atlantic.
“This is a historic opportunity to revitalize our partnership,” said Michel. Transatlantic relations were severely disrupted under predecessor Donald Trump, partly because Trump withdrew his country from a number of important international organizations and treaties, including the Paris climate agreement.
With Biden, the wind seems to be blowing from a different angle. He has already repaired a number of those breaches, and the US, for example, is back in the climate treaty. Expectations in the EU are, therefore, high.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte said afterwards that he had spoken to Biden before when he was Obama’s vice president. “It is, of course, a strong president who is really anchored, you see, in the transatlantic relationship and is very attached to it.”