The former US President Donald Trump was a bit of a nightmare for Europe. Not always, not in everything, but according to Dita Charanz, Vice-President of the European Parliament, for example, he was probably the first American president in modern history to perceive Europe as a "rival, an enemy of the United States."
For most of us, the outcome of the US election was such a relief, Charanz told me of the prevailing view in the EU institutions after it was clear that Trump had lost and Joe Biden had become the new president. "The United States have lacked many things in recent years, from security, to the World Trade Organization; and we have not been able to agree on common standards, for example in the digital sector," Charanz adds, who worked on US-European trade and investment Agreement (TTIP) before Trump’s time.
Going back the old times? Not exactly
Biden's confirmed victory over Trump was welcomed in their conclusions by the European Council summit in early December, and they made it clear they believed in the resumption of former close relations with the new US administration. According to the prime ministers and presidents of the member states, a "strong strategic transatlantic partnership based on common interests and shared values" needs to be rebuilt.
According to the heads of the member countries, there is a lot the European Union and the United States need to work on after the four-year hiatus. "The EU looks forward to working with the United States, in particular, to step up the global response to the covid-19 pandemic, tackle the climate change or boost economic recovery," December summit conclusions say. The EU hopes Biden will soon visit Brussels, as Trump almost ignored it.
However, after four years of Trump's destruction, observers say it will be difficult to go back to Barack Obama's times and pick up where Obama left off. This is especially true of the TTIP agreement, which even Obama’s administration failed to establish, and against which there were many comments or even oppositions from various directions of the EU.
Nor can one expect a "going back to the old days" when it comes to NATO. While Biden will not question US allied commitments, as Trump often did, Washington's pressure to increase the military spending of European Alliance members, which Trump – exceptionally correctly criticized for their inadequacy, will not go away.
The good news for Europe, and indeed for the whole world, is the return of the United States from the Trump Darkness to the Paris Climate Agreement, where they can work with the EU to achieve goals to reduce the global warming.
Not everyone is over the moon
Biden's "America is back" also means the return of the United States to an active role in key international organizations and efforts to address the world's problems with democratic allies, among whom the European Union is at the forefront. This will also be forced by China's growing aggression, with which the EU has tried in vain in recent years to establish more equal relations.
In conclusion, it is necessary to add that not everywhere in Europe people rejoiced over Biden's victory. Hungary and Poland are somewhat sad, as Trump’s approach suited their authoritarian-like democracies. After all, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán supported Trump very openly before the election. Lány was sad too, where President Miloš Zeman, or maybe more his staff got used to the news quite fast. Zeman, who praised Trump four years ago, was one of the first European statesmen to congratulate Biden on his victory.
The author is the editor of the Deník