July 25, 2021

France’s contained frustrations after Biden’s tour of Europe

It was to be expected: Joe Biden took the light, during his first European tour. His ritual slogan, « America is back », involves reunion. But he also suggests that his country is the western solar star, as if his allies had been eating their blood for four years while waiting for him.

However, Europeans were the guardians of multilateralism during this corrosive Trump era, Emmanuel Macron often recalls: preservation of the Paris climate agreement and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iranian nuclear power, unprecedented debate on European sovereignty, launch of the ACT-A initiative, in 2020, to allow sharing of capacities to fight Covid-19 with the most vulnerable countries …

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also The Alliance of Democracies behind Joe Biden’s European tour

“In terms of communication, it can be frustrating, explains the Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune. The Americans give the impression that they are leaders on the climate plan, the vaccination of the world, the taxation of digital, while they have blocked the files for four years. Today, it is they who are rallying to European positions. “

The advent of a democratic administration advocating cooperation, international law and the virtues of the transatlantic alliance is playing like a magnet. “Joe Biden took on the role of leader of the free world with confidence and skill on this journey”, rejoiced Jake Sullivan, his national security adviser, back in the United States. The American president broached a wide spectrum of subjects with his interlocutors, but keeping the single horizon of his diplomacy: the rivalry with China.

“The transatlantic agenda has changed in nature”

“We are not in the complacent euphoria, which we could have feared a few months ago, in the reunion with the United States, explains Clément Beaune. The nature of the transatlantic agenda has changed, security is no longer the only one at the top of the list, it is not all about NATO. “ France and Germany, during the G7 and Alliance summits, tried to weigh together against the United States to soften the language on China, desired by Washington.

Jake Sullivan, for his part, welcomed the fact that the G7 had promoted a project, still very theoretical, called Build Back Better World (B3W) which is an ecological and transparent alternative to the “new silk roads” launched by Beijing. The President’s advisor also underlines that NATO mentions China by name in its long final communiqué. The Alliance’s new strategic concept, which is slowly developing, will have to take this country into account.

You have 72.81% of this article to read. The rest is for subscribers only.