LONDON — The European Union is rejoicing the arrival of President-elect Joe Biden after four fractious years under the leadership of Donald Trump.
Just hours before the President-elect takes an oath to serve as the 46th President of the United States, European officials were not afraid of expressing their happiness at Biden’s forthcoming inauguration and ambitions for the new administration.
“This day brings good news: The United States is back and Europe stands ready to reconnect with an old and trusted partner,” Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission said on Wednesday.
“Joe Biden’s oath will be a message of healing for a deeply divided nation and it will be a message of hope to a world waiting for the U.S. to be back in the circle of like-minded states,” von der Leyen also said in Brussels, adding that “after four long years, Europe has a friend in the White House.”
The U.S. and the EU have been at odds over several issues, from international trade to climate change, since President Trump arrived at the White House in January 2017. The president’s combative style and unilateral actions were not welcomed by European officials, who were used to coordinating some policies with the United States.
However, the EU is hoping that a Biden administration will mean more cooperation going forward.
“It is more than a transition, it is an opportunity to rejuvenate the transatlantic relationship,” Charles Michel, European Council president, said on Wednesday.
The European Union announced in December a plan on how to improve the transatlantic relationship. This is focused on four major policy areas: health response, climate change, trade and tech, and security.
But European officials are also aware that when it comes to digital taxation, for instance, it might be hard to reach an agreement overnight.
“We have our differences and they will not magically disappear,” Michel also said at the European Parliament.
Earlier this week, European finance ministers discussed with the former economic advisor to the Obama administration, Larry Summers, the future of the transatlantic relationship.
According to one EU official, who did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the talks, Summers said this will be the first time since the fall of the Berlin Wall that there will be such a close relationship between the U.S. and the EU.
However, Summers also tried to manage expectations, suggesting that it may take a bit longer than expected for the new administration to settle in and appoint all the necessary officials it needs.