“The Brussels Diary With Yana Toom”: EU and American Elections


The US presidential election is coming closer every day and, from America’s perspective, this is the most important event on the planet. Let’s be honest; the EU is also following these events from its own European corner. Before Trump, we somehow or other were on the same page as the US, but a total mess happened when he came to power.

Let us take the green effort, for example. Obama signed the Paris Agreement on climate. Тrump, who considers global warming fake news, furiously withdrew his signature. The irony of the situation is that the actual withdrawal from this agreement happens on 4 November this year – the day after the election. If Biden wins, the US will re-sign everything immediately, and it will begin working again with the EU side by side.

Sadly, it is not possible to bring back the Iranian deal – the one the EU was so proud of and Trump ruined; that ship has sailed, the situation has since changed.

This is all politics but there’s also the economy. It is no secret that in trade Trump practices extortion by threatening others with trade wars; he is like a bull in a china shop – he comes, stomps around and leaves a mess behind. It is expected that there will be a better relationship with Biden, based on those times there was talk about a transatlantic trade alliance. To a point, though. No matter how much Biden likes Europe, trade will remain an obstacle. Last year, the US bought 384 billion euros’ worth of goods and services from the EU – the EU from the US, 232 billion. The US is in a minus, and no US administration likes this.

One example, worth the Shakespearean pen: the saga of the long-standing feud between the two giants of the aircraft industry – European Airbus and American Boeing. Both corporations allege that the other is being provided state aid. In 2005, a long time before Trump, this ended in a dispute: the US sued the EU and the EU sued the US. A year ago, the World Trade Organisation ruled in the first case that the EU was guilty and the US won the right to impose tariffs on 7.5 billion dollars’ worth of EU goods. On this Tuesday, 13 October, a ruling was made in countersuit. This time the WTO ruled the US to be guilty.

However, an interesting thing happened: we were given the right to impose tariffs on only 4 billion dollars of goods. It seems as if the US had won, but in this matter both parties, the Americans and the Europeans, had in fact lost. The European Commission quite rightly has called on the US to stop the trade war and somehow make an agreement. The difference between Trump and Biden is that the big shot businessman Trump will not agree to it and will continue to twist the EU’s arms to the end. The politician Biden, though, may give an agreement more thought.

In fact, politics hardly ever dictates economy – more often than not it is the other way around. Let us say that the Republicans and the Democrats agree on the question of North Stream 2: Biden said long ago that this is a bad deal for Europe. Whoever wins in the United States, NATO remains an alliance to which we, according to the US, contribute too little money. It is also clear that China remains the number one player – for Europe more like a partner but for the US more like an enemy.

Nevertheless, if the leader of the US would refrain from talking like a fishwife that ‘Europe treats us worse than China’ and that Commissioner Margrethe Vestager ‘hates the United States’, everybody’s life would become a little easier.