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How Europe Can Work with Biden

Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election creates the possibility of much greater international cooperation in confronting global threats. Europe should aim to strengthen the hand of those in America who want to help build a new, open, and more equitable international order.

WASHINGTON, DC – After several anxiety-filled rollercoaster days following the recent US presidential election, it is now all but certain that Joe Biden will become America’s next president on January 20, 2021. Whether Democrats also take control of the Senate depends on the outcome of two crucial run-off votes in Georgia on January 5. The more erratic and outrageous President Donald Trump’s behavior is in the coming weeks, the greater the chances of the Democrats flipping those seats.

But whatever happens in Georgia, Europe and much of the world have breathed a sigh of relief at Biden’s victory. The dominant global narrative in recent years has been the inexorable retreat of multilateralism and the rise of dangerous forms of great-power rivalry, even as huge challenges such as climate change, possible new pandemics, cyberattacks, and the misuse of new technologies require a coordinated global response. But this mismatch isn’t inevitable. Biden’s triumph at least creates the possibility of much greater international cooperation to confront these threats – and Europe needs to play a prominent role.

The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, has previously outlined the bloc’s global strategy. It involves increasing Europe’s geostrategic cohesion and strategic autonomy, while reaching out to others and supporting universal principles, plurilaterally if necessary and multilaterally whenever possible. These two pillars are complementary but also reinforcing. A more cohesive and strategically autonomous EU can be more effective in seeking multilateral solutions, while a more cooperative world order would help to boost the bloc’s influence and vindicate its raison d’être.