June 30, 2021

The Stakes are High

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel prepares to step down after almost 16 years in office, transatlantic relations, and especially US-Germany relations, remain uncertain. The administration of US President Joe Biden has made several overtures to Europe and to Merkel specifically in an effort to get relations back on track. In addition to rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, the World Health Organization, and the UN Human Rights Council, the Biden administration has re-started talks to bring Iran back into compliance with the international nuclear agreement, known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. (Iran began to exceed the limits to uranium enrichment imposed by the deal after former President Donald Trump ordered the US withdrawal from JCPOA in 2018). To woo Merkel, President Biden reversed Trump’s decision to partially withdraw US troops from Germany and waived sanctions on some European companies involved with the controversial gas pipeline Nord Stream 2—a step that drew significant criticism from the US Congress and other domestic constituencies.

Underneath the veneer of goodwill remain persistent European concerns about the reliability of the United States as a partner, threatening to weaken transatlantic cooperation.

The Biden administration never expected that such steps would quickly repair relations after four years of Trump, but progress in revitalizing the relationship has proven more difficult than anticipated. The series of summits with NATO and the European Union were seen as a success on both sides of the Atlantic and were a step in the right direction. The message was clear: America is back and committed to its allies. Yet, questions remain about what tangible progress will come of the summits and where US-Europe relations will go from here. Underneath the veneer of goodwill remain persistent European concerns about the reliability of the United States as a partner, threatening to weaken transatlantic cooperation.

Read the full article from Internationale Politik Quarterly.

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