Biden’s Challenges During Visit to Europe

“My trip to Europe is about America rallying the world’s democracies,” US President Joe Biden wrote in The Washington Post ahead of his first trip to Europe. Biden’ agenda will begin on Wednesday landing in the United Kingdom before concluding by meeting with Vladimir Putin on June 16. 

“America is back,” European Council President Charles Michel echoed Mr Biden’ departure using the motto the U.S. President has adopted after Donald Trump pulled Washington out of several multilateral institutions. So why this trip is so important to the United States and NATO nation leaders?

U.S. Challenges

Challenges including climate change, competition with China and containment of Russia will be some of the issues Biden will bring to European leaders, as well as reinvigorate transatlantic relations. 

After the first meeting with U.S. Air Force personnel stationed at Royal Air Force Mildenhall where Biden will land on Wednesday, the first bilateral will be with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to talk about climate, trade and the situation in Northern Ireland. 

But all eyes will be on G7 in Cornwall on Friday and Saturday, and the meeting with NATO allies on June 14. These will be respectively the first time the leaders of the world’s biggest economies will get together in person since the pandemic has started, and the first NATO summit since 2018. 

Covid-19 and the support for helping poorer countries get more vaccine doses will be on the agenda as well as recovery from the pandemic after the the United States said it will send its first shipments of surplus vaccine doses abroad on Thursday. 

The Transatlantic Alliance

“In Brussels, at the NATO summit, I will affirm the United States’ unwavering commitment to Article 5 and to ensuring our alliance is strong in the face of every challenge, including threats like cyberattacks on our critical infrastructure,” pointed out Joe Biden before his trip to Europe. The principle of collective defence is a the very heart of NATO’s founding treaty and if former US President Donald Trump’ pressure was to increase defence spending at 2% commitment, it is still not clear what Joe Biden will ask his allies during his presidency. What seems to be a sense of the whole trip is showing that alliances and partners matter and that the United States are back, for real. 

The other main issues for the NATO summit meeting will be how to manage Afghanistan both during and after withdrawal, and how to deal with Russia and China. On China Biden said “the world’s major democracies will be offering a high-standard alternative to China for upgrading physical, digital and health infrastructure that is more resilient and supports global development.” China’s Belt and Road Initiative as well as 5G are those sensitive topics Biden will address NATO allies: the intention is to launch a Trade and Technology Council to boost co-ordination on 5G, semiconductors, supply chains, export controls and technology rules and standards.  

Erdogan and Putin: Biden’s Friends or Enemies?

Last but not least, Biden will also meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: despite other scenarios, it is unclear where the conversations will go after the U.S. President recognized the Armenian genocide last April on 106th anniversary of the slaughter.

Joe Biden’s first first overseas trip will end meeting with Vladimir Putin in Geneva on June 16. The summit might raise many contentious issues between the two Countries. Following the Putin respond to Biden’s killer comment, “he who said it, did it,” the two leaders spoke over the phone in April discussing, among others, the situation on Ukraine’s border and the Russian military intervention. Despite the intent of the United States to pursue a strategic stability dialogue with Russia, Joe Biden will probably urge on Alexei Navalny’ release but also on the situation in Belarus after the Eu imposed sanctions on Aleksandr Lukashenko’ regime.