There won’t be any better partners

16.11.2020 - Article

Joint article by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, published in zeitonline, Le Monde and the Washington Post.

Europe and America need a transatlantic “New Deal” to adapt our partnership to global upheavals and in line with the depth of our bonds, common values and shared interests. Our two countries will be working toward that goal with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala D. Harris, who believe in the value of international partnerships and in the friendship between the United States and Europe.

There is much to repair. The rules and institutions that have underpinned our security and prosperity are under attack. Expectations are high on both sides of the Atlantic for a successful recovery. Tackling the root causes of the social divisions in our countries remains one of the greatest tasks for Americans and Europeans alike.

The world we live in has changed in the past four years, for the worse. With Biden, greater transatlantic unity will be possible with regard to autocrats and countries that seek to enhance their power by undermining international or regional order. But a principled approach does not exclude dialogue and cooperation. We hope that the United States and Russia will succeed in extending the New START agreement beyond February 2021. We are ready to engage with Moscow on issues relevant to European security, and we expect a constructive response. The European Union must prepare for this.

Under a Biden administration, the compass needle of U.S. foreign policy will continue to gravitate toward China, which we see as a partner, competitor and systemic rival at the same time. We must work together to deal effectively with China’s growing assertiveness, and also to maintain necessary avenues of cooperation with Beijing, to face global challenges such as the covid-19 pandemic and climate change. But this requires that the United States and Europe consult each other to coordinate our approaches; for instance, on human rights, digital infrastructure and fair trade.

We, as Europeans, want to reengage the United States on a joint approach to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program and to deal with the other challenges Iran poses to our security and the region. We will have to address Turkey’s problematic behavior in the eastern Mediterranean and beyond. And we must work together to fight terrorism and radicalization that threaten our security and our societies on both sides of the Atlantic.

Europe has changed for the better. We Europeans are no longer only asking ourselves what America can do for us, but what we should do to defend our own security and build a more balanced transatlantic partnership. These are two sides of the same coin. European sovereignty has grown over the years. We are developing joint security and defense capabilities. They are necessary to strengthen both the European Union and NATO. Already, Europe takes on much greater responsibility for security in its neighborhood — from the Sahel over the Mediterranean Sea to the Near and Middle East, including the Gulf. This is the road we will follow. In a few weeks, a group of high-ranking security experts will present its recommendations on how to make NATO more fit for purpose. We are committed to that idea as an investment in the future of the transatlantic partnership.

Security in the 21st century also depends on whether we find joint answers to the global challenges of our times. We welcome Biden’s announcement that the United States will rejoin the Paris climate agreement and the World Health Organization. We see this as the starting point of a transatlantic endeavor to strengthen multilateralism and to adapt it to the challenges of today and tomorrow. It remains the only efficient response in a world where a growing number of actors seek to undermine the rules-based order. Cooperation between Europe and the United States is crucial for a fair and global distribution of vaccines and medicines, as well as for a restart of the world economy.

This is how Europe and the United States can remain guarantors for peace and stability, democracy, the rule of law and human rights in this world. Of course, we know that we won't always agree on everything. And we will need to solve the disputes over tariffs, sanctions, taxes and subsidies, which have put a heavy strain on our partnership with the United States in recent years.

But we are willing to work with the United States on joint solutions because of what is at stake for the next generation of Europeans and Americans alike: It is, quite simply, our ability to preserve our way of life and to pursue our never-ending quest for individual freedom and collective progress. There won’t be any better, closer and more natural partners for this than America and Europe.


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