Biden is taking office in the US, but what does it mean for Europe?

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a drive-in rally at Heinz Field, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in Pittsburgh.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a drive-in rally at Heinz Field, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in Pittsburgh. Copyright AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
By Emma Beswick
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Here's what we know about what to expect next.


Democrat Joe Biden is set to take over as president in the United States.

He has just announced plans to take executive action to roll back some of the most controversial decisions of his predecessor.

But what will it mean for Europe?

How will Biden being president affect Europeans?

Defence: a reaffirmation of old alliances

Biden will now be put at the helm of the most powerful military in the world — what will he do with it?

His administration is likely to echo many of the bipartisan calls made over the decades for greater burden-sharing within the context of the various alliances between the U.S. and other nations, Rebecca Lissner, a non-resident scholar at Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies and co-author of An Open World: How America Can Win the Contest for Twenty-First-Century Order, told Euronews.

She also expects to see a reaffirmation of traditional alliances, along with an effort to modernise them so that they are "less like relics of the Cold War and more like the type of international tools that we need to defend against the full spectrum of 21st-century security challenges, many of which are not explicitly military in nature".

Biden has talked about doing a summit of democracies in his first year in a Foreign Affairs article from earlier in 2020, which Lissner says hints at him taking a less autonomous approach than Trump and prioritising the "democratic allies and partners" who have "long been at the centre of American foreign policy".

Environment: return to the Paris Agreement

The Democrats campaigned on specific policy ideas, including those which would address the climate crisis, so we have a good idea what Biden's administration is promising.

As a first, symbolic gesture to US allies and the rest of the world, Biden has committed to rejoining the Paris Agreement as swiftly as possible - this also made up one of his administration's recently-announced executive orders.

Secondly, it is likely that Biden would look to restore protections and elaborate on policies in place under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.

In order to do so, Biden has promised to spend $2 trillion (€1.7 trillion) on tackling the crisis with the ultimate goal of the US reaching net-carbon emissions by 2050.

Trade: not the end of trade wars

While we can expect changes in trade between the US and EU should Biden win, it will not see the end of trade wars, Edward Alden, a US trade policy expert and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told Euronews.

Issues which are will remain "very, very difficult" under Biden include digital taxation, as the Democrats are more beholden to the Silicon Valley digital giants like Google and Facebook than the Republicans, he said.

"The Boeing-Airbus (conflict) is not going to go away. And if you look at Joe Biden's platform, he has promised the most aggressive 'Buy American' policy that we have ever seen out of a president," he added.

"I think you're going to see a very inward-looking United States."

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