According to the chairman of EU summits, US President Joe Biden’s visit to Europe this week will demonstrate that multilateralism has survived the Trump years and will pave the way for transatlantic collaboration on issues ranging from China and Russia to climate change.
“America is back,” European Council President Charles Michel declared, echoing Biden’s mantra after US President Donald Trump took Washington out of numerous global institutions and threatened to leave NATO.
“It means that we have again a very strong partner to promote the multilateral approach … a big difference with the Trump administration,” Michel told a group of reporters in Brussels late on Monday.
Michel and the chief of the European Union’s executive, Ursula von der Leyen, will meet Biden on June 15. That will follow a summit of G7 rich democracies in Britain and a meeting of NATO nation leaders in Brussels on June 14.
According to Michel, the concept that “multilateralism is back” is more than a catchphrase; it is a recognition that a global strategy is required to handle difficulties, such as supply chains for COVID-19 vaccinations or fairer corporate taxation in the digital age.
He believes the three-day G7 conference in Cornwall, England, will be a “important turning point” in demonstrating genuine political commitment to nations’ vows to “build back better” following the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
It would also be an opportunity to address pressure felt by liberal democracies, said Michel, who expects a discussion at the G7 on the need for the West to take a more proactive approach to defending its values in the face of China’s rise and Russian assertiveness.
Michel stated that he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin for 90 minutes on Monday, reminding him that Moscow must adjust its behaviour if it wants improved ties with the EU’s 27 member states.
The EU and Russia disagree on a wide range of issues, including human rights, Russia’s participation in Ukraine, and Moscow’s treatment of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, and Michel claimed ties had reached a low point.