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Post-election event tackles the US election results and implications for Europe

Panelists Marina Henke, Nicole Koenig, Peter Wittig and Sudha David-Wilp discuss the transatlantic partnership.

What impact will the US election have on the future of trade? How will the US and Europe cooperate on foreign policy issues? What effect will Biden’s victory have on the future of security cooperation and COVID-19 coordination? On 10 November, panelists addressed these questions in an online discussion hosted by the Hertie School, focusing on the future of transatlantic relations following the US elections.

“This is a huge opportunity for the renewal of transatlantic relations,” said Peter Wittig, former German Ambassador to the United States, current Senior Advisor Global Affairs for the Schaeffler Group and Fisher Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School. However, he noted that a return to the old order is unlikely: “We have to be clear Europe will never be as important as it used to be for any president. The centre of gravity is in China.”

Marina Henke, Professor of International Relations at the Hertie School and Director of the Centre for International Security, said that the priorities of the Democratic Party and the US lie elsewhere, and this is not in Europe. “The big question Germany and Europe faces is what can it do to keep the United States interested,” she said. But security cooperation, remains “at the heart of the transatlantic relationship,” she stressed, questioning whether Europe can still rely on the US for support against threats such as Russia.

The smartest approach to reenergising transatlantic relations is to find an entry point into President-Elect Joseph Biden’s domestic agenda by picking low-hanging fruit, such as cooperation on COVID-19, economic recovery and the climate change agenda, said Peter Wittig.

Nicole Koenig, Deputy Director at the Jacques Delors Centre, added that there could also be room for cooperation in the area of trade by, for example, lifting tariffs on steel and aluminium.

Sudha David-Wilp, senior transatlantic fellow and deputy director of the Berlin office of the German Marshall Fund, said that Europe has lessons to offer the US in the area of data protection. “Europe can serve as a role model and work with Americans on strengthening privacy,” she noted. 

Cristina Gonzalez, POLITICO Europe’s lobbying reporter, author of EU Influence and producer of the podcast EU Confidential, moderated the discussion.