The case for renewed transatlantic cooperation

Joe Biden's victory represents an opportunity for Europe.

The case for renewed transatlantic cooperation

Sophie Wilmès, Jean Asselborn and Stef Blok are the foreign affairs ministers of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands respectively.

The American people have spoken. Viewed from Europe, their choice is a huge asset for transatlantic cooperation.  

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden comes to the White House with decades of foreign policy experience and a long track record of championing international alliances and cooperation. His administration’s platform, too, offers important opportunities for renewed engagement with Europe, something that is urgently required to defend our common values and interests.

The election result represents an opportunity for Europe, and it is critical that the European Union and its member countries step up to the plate and seize it.

Our parents experienced the importance of transatlantic cooperation up close. They saw American soldiers liberate Nazi-occupied Europe. In their lifetime, the United States became synonymous with freedom and democracy. Successive U.S. administrations ushered in the international rules-based order that we know today and chaperoned European integration.

Today, the U.S. and the EU share democratic institutions and possess unique economic and military strength. If we unite behind a renewed commitment to protect our way of life, we can achieve a great deal, but there is no time to waste. This is why we must set out some priorities for renewing our cooperation.

First of all, we welcome Biden’s pledge to reinvigorate alliances and to strengthen democracy and the rule of law around the world. This will help us to put our norms and values front and center.

But we should be honest: In order to promote democracy around the world, we need to lead by example and better defend these values in the West as well. The summit for democracy, called for by Biden, will allow us to chart a path forward and determine how to shore up democratic values at home so that we can project them around the world.

Secondly, we agree with the president-elect that multilateral reforms are needed to better enforce international rules, uphold human rights around the world and keep in check the influence of our adversaries.

We welcome Biden’s intention to return to the Paris climate agreement and the World Health Organization. We must also make sure that Europe and the U.S. find common ground again in preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. We hope to see an American commitment to an ambitious international arms control and disarmament agenda. The U.S. will find Europe at its side in these endeavors.

Our economies are climbing out of the deepest recession of our lifetime. We should look at pragmatic solutions to increase transatlantic trade. Investments from our countries in America already support close to 1 million U.S. jobs. The U.S. is the biggest investor in our countries. Together, Europe and the U.S. can lead the way for green recoveries by harnessing our scientific, technological and entrepreneurial prowess.

When it comes to China and other geopolitical competitors, we should better police unfair trading practices through a beefed-up World Trade Organization, protect against the theft of sensitive technologies and strengthen our strategic resilience to withstand economic coercion and attacks on critical infrastructure.

Given the common geostrategic challenges we are facing, we should settle ongoing transatlantic differences on trade policy as soon as possible. There are better and more effective ways to address and resolve policy differences than through unilateral sanctions on one another’s businesses and institutions. In the same vein, we call upon the president-elect to withdraw the executive order targeting the International Criminal Court as soon as possible.

Lastly, we cannot overstate the importance of our mutual security partnership. We appreciate Biden’s unwavering commitment to NATO, which is the bedrock of American and European security. At the same time, Europe must step up its own efforts.

That Europeans shoulder more responsibility for our own security is not only a reasonable request from the U.S. but also in Europe’s own interest. In order to become a net security provider, we must deepen European defense cooperation. This will directly benefit NATO and allow the alliance to deal with its security interests in a more effective way.

American leadership is necessary in addressing all of our current geopolitical and security challenges.

What was true 75 years ago is still true today: The U.S. is at its most powerful and effective when working closely with its allies, whether it is in difficult theaters such as Iraq or Afghanistan, or whether it’s to do with the economic security challenges posed by China.

With President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris — whose election is an inspiration for girls and women around the world — at the helm of the next administration, we trust that we will see a strengthening of longstanding traditions of diplomatic engagement and pledge that the U.S. will find its European partners ready and invested in achieving our common goals through renewed cooperation.