THE Commission and High Representative for Foreign Policy Josep Borrell are keen to revamp the transatlantic agenda, forge a unified stance in tackling the ‘strategic challenge’ posed by China’s ‘growing international assertiveness’ and enhance the EU-US trade relationship, in what has been described as a ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity … for global co-operation on our common values, interests and global influence.’
The move to reset the bilateral relationship follows the recent victory of President-elect Joe Biden and VP-elect Kamala Harris, with both expected to take office on January 20th, 2021.
On December 2nd, Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and the EU Foreign Affairs chief Borell unveiled the joint communication entitled ‘A new EU-US agenda for global change’ setting out the guiding principles of the new agenda. Both sides ‘should pursue common interests and leverage our collective strength to deliver results on our strategic priorities,’ while Brussels and Washington ‘should always look for solutions that respect our common values of fairness, openness and competition – including where there are bilateral differences.’
Parts of the paper are dedicated to co-operation on fighting Covid and reforming the WHO, but the focus goes beyond the pandemic. Under the chapter ‘Working together to protect our planet and prosperity,’ the EU ‘warmly welcomes’ Biden’s commitment to re-join the Paris Climate accord, floating the idea of a shared transatlantic commitment to a net-zero emissions pathway by 2050.
Such a move would make climate neutrality a new global benchmark in the run-up to the next UN Climate Summit (COP26), slated for Glasgow in 2021. The only specific reference to ‘food’ in the text relates to environmental protection, how ‘pressures on nature and wildlife threaten the world’s economic development and endanger food security.’
Meanwhile, a joint approach on tackling China ‘will provide a key mechanism for advancing our interests and managing our differences.’ Commenting in early December, von der Leyen said the initiative was ‘fit for today’s global landscape.’
The German politician said the overhauled alliance was ‘based on shared values and history, but also interests: building a stronger, more peaceful and more prosperous world.’
• Rose O’Donovan is editor-in-chief of the Brussels-based publication AGRA FACTS.