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Europe's week: Biden in Brussels and Ursula von der Leyen's recovery plan tour

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By Euronews
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Europe's week: Biden in Brussels and Ursula von der Leyen's recovery plan tour
Copyright  BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP or licensors
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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen went on a good news tour of Europe this week to officially inform the governments of Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Greece and Luxembourg that their national recovery plans had been approved.

The Commission managed to raise €20 billion via a ten-year bond to finance the bloc's fightback from the pandemic. It was the largest-ever institutional bond issuance in Europe, the largest-ever institutional single tranche transaction and the largest amount the EU has raised in a single transaction.

As the first to submit its plan, Lisbon was the first to welcome von der Leyen.

"The plan clearly meets the demanding criteria we have jointly established. It is ambitious, it is far-sighted, and most importantly it will help build a better future for Portugal, for the Portuguese people and for the European Union," said von der Leyen.

"There is no doubt that it will deeply transform Portugal’s economy," she added.

The first round of money will start flowing in July, according to the Commission President.

America is Back

US President Joe Biden was also in town for an EU-US summit, as well as to meet with NATO leaders.

His visit to Brussels was part of his first foreign trip and during the talks with the bloc, progress was made on several fronts, including on a 17-year long dispute over subsidies for aerospace companies Airbus and Boeing, suspending any related tariffs for five years.

Council President Charles Michel was pleased to welcome back the US into the fold.

"President Biden has said that America is back on the world stage. We take that pledge at face value, and we are delighted that the United States is back. We also welcome the concrete, intense, dense work that we have been able to do today," Michel said.

But one unresolved and thorny issue is that of tariffs on EU steel and aluminum exports, slapped on the bloc by Biden's predecessor Donald Trump.

Even with this problem not sorted out, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told Euronews that there was a sense of relief in the air that American is back at the table.

"I think I felt from the Europeans relief that President Biden is here and that the America they've come to know and love is back. And great optimism, optimism that we friends, longtime friends are back at the table working together, sharing common values and solving problems together," Raimondo explained.

China was also a topic of intense debate between the US and its NATO allies.

Raimondo said that there is a "need to write the rules of the road" for emerging technologies in order to prevent Beijing from becoming the global rule-setter.

"China doesn't share our values. They don't share our values around privacy. They don't share our values around human rights protections or our strong and free democracy, and free and open society. So we, together with Europe, need to write the rules of the road," the Commerce Secretary told Euronews.

"The real strategy is to have a strong America and a strong EU, [a] strong American industry and innovation and entrepreneurship, and the same here in Europe because together we are stronger. I think that is the best way to have our strategy succeed as it relates to China."