Russia and China mobilize their transatlantic partners – Carnegie Europe


Some summits produce mundane statements. Others are public relations exercises. Then there are those who make all kinds of commitments that are rarely kept.

Judy Dempsey

Dempsey is a non-resident senior fellow at Carnegie Europe and editor-in-chief of Strategic Europe.


The virtual summit which takes place on December 7, 2021 between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin does not fit into either of these categories.

Indeed, the summit coincides with a massive military build-up by Russia along the border with eastern Ukraine.

It coincides with a cynical attempt by the discredited leader of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, to use migrants to divide the EU.

It coincides with a rapidly weakening arms control regime at a time when China is to build its military and nuclear arsenals.

And it coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic that worries so many countries as it wreaks havoc on lives, the economy and confidence in democratic institutions.

Skeptics may argue that the omens don’t look particularly good for anything substantial to emerge from the Biden-Putin summit. But don’t overlook one major point: President Biden is entering it with the full support of U.S. allies.

After the disruptive years of the administration of former President Donald Trump who mocked the EU and mocked NATO and other multilateral organizations, many Europeans felt that the post-1945 order was ‘quickly faded. In its wake, this would leave the West weaker, divided and vulnerable to the influence of Russia and China, who are poised to profit from the West’s decline.

Yet in recent weeks, the Biden administration has gone on the offensive in Europe with its senior diplomats touring many European capitals. The administration even shared intelligence—A rare event — with its allies on the scale of the Russian military rise. And it’s to forge a security agreement with the EU. The aim was to go to the top with Putin with the full support of NATO and the Union.

With such support, Biden must now decipher Putin’s true intentions. There are a lot of unknowns. What is clear is that the Kremlin does not want NATO’s reach to extend to Ukraine – not that it is currently an option for the alliance or for Kiev.

NATO is not the only glue that keeps the transatlantic alliance intact. The rapidly changing security environment involves technological change, digitization, pressure on global trade and a pandemic that has exposed the vulnerability of supply chains. It requires a sober assessment of how the West can and should modernize its relations.

“There is a lot of positive potential,” said Daniel Baer, ​​a former US diplomat now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The transatlantic relationship “was due to a radical change”, he added.

It’s already happening. The EU and the US administration are in the throes of detailed negotiations on climate, trade, and the scope and tax regime of US tech companies. In addition to this, sensitive issues related to strict EU data protection laws are being discussed.

These topics, to name a few, are complex due to the different rules and legal systems in the US and Europe, not to mention how any US administration should handle infighting among member states. of the EU and the institutions of the bloc.

This is where trade comes in. Its scale is so great – and so often underestimated – that it is one of the most fundamental pillars of the transatlantic relationship.

Just take a look at the European Commission analysis trade with the United States. “The transatlantic relationship defines the global economy,” he said. The EU and the United States have “the most important bilateral trade and investment relations and enjoy the most integrated economic relations in the world … Together, the economies of the two territories represent over 40% of global GDP and more. 40% of global GDP. trade in goods and services.

Even though China has overtaken the United States as the main source of EU merchandise imports, there is a deep cultural element in EU-US economic ties. They are based on a market economy, transparent procurement rules, regulatory procedures and the rule of law.

These economic, investment and trade aspects, in addition to the political system, define the West. This is why the collapse of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership the talks were disappointing. This would have been a big step towards introducing common standards, or even something as basic as electrical outlets. This would have set an example for many other countries eager to emulate such standards.

When influential business lobbies in European countries pressure their governments to help them land lucrative contracts with Moscow or Beijing, the playing field is rarely a level playing field. Whether it is issues of weak property and intellectual property rights, corruption and bribes, European businesses face a different economic and business culture. Western standards cannot be taken for granted.

These standards are more important than ever as the competition for world domination intensifies. What is at stake is the West’s adherence to a competitive order based on rules, values ​​and transparency.

This is why the Biden-Putin summit is important. It is about the West defending these aspects of the post-1945 order, despite efforts by Moscow and Beijing to relegate them to the history books.


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