Has the so-called new dawn in transatlantic relations really arrived? Today, EU leaders Ursula von der Leyen (pictured, on right, with Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron) and Charles Michel will meet Biden in Brussels. The two sides are expected to commit to ending a long-running dispute over aircraft subsidies by 11 July. Controversial tariffs on steel and aluminium introduced by Donald Trump will also be among the topics discussed – but real progress here is less certain.
The election of Biden was hailed across Europe – and beyond – as the start of a new chapter in relations with the US. Yet Biden has come under significant pressure at home from the steel industry and unions, several of which hold sway in key political regions, who are happy with the tariffs. And then there’s the even thornier matter of China. The superpower now produces more than half of the world’s steel and has managed to evade tariffs by selling it through third-party countries. In order to lift tariffs on foreign steel with minimal negative consequences at home, Biden and the EU will need to come to some kind of consensus on how to address China’s steel production.
Early drafts of an agreement expected to be released following the summit indicate that the US tariffs on steel and aluminium will be lifted – but not until the end of the year (partly to allow more time for a consensus on China to emerge). Though Biden is great at talking the talk of a reinvigorated relationship, it seems that making a quick and clean break from Trump’s “America First” policies – at least the ones that are still largely popular within the US – is easier said than done.