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Biden Looking to Revamp NATO In His First Overseas Trip to Europe

Monday, 14 June 2021 -

The Biden administration is looking to restore the transatlantic relationship that both the United States and the Europeans have been craving for, and as well revamp the NATO 30-member defence alliance in going up against rising global threats like Russia and China.

Ahead of Monday’s June 14th NATO Summit in Brussels – which comes on the back end of the G7 Summit that concluded over the weekend in Cornwall, UK – Biden’s second phase of the trip includes a meeting with 29 fellow NATO allies, and all eyes are in Belgium for the next few days. And top of his agenda is to:

  • Urge support for democracy to vehemently compete against the threat of authoritarianism and autocracy from Russia and China and some European allies.

  • Discuss new and lasting strategic solutions to NATO’s Afghanistan troop drawdown.

What Will Be NATO’s Focus?

According to Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary-general, the NATO Summit will signal transatlantic solidarity, even as the allies cautiously welcomes U.S leadership in the post-Trump era. Biden is expected to kickstart high-level conversations regarding global support for democracy aimed to underpin rising European autocracies and the two main authoritarian threats Russia and China.

Other key issues, according to top European officials, would be how NATO's defence can adapt to rising cyberattacks from China and Russia, as well as how allied militaries can adapt paths for carbon neutrality by 2050. Discussions will involve revoking the long-standing military exemption from minimizing carbon emissions.

Biden’s Expected Sit-Down with Vladimir Putin

The third phase of Biden’s trip would be the highly-anticipated sit-down with Russia’s Putin, an event scheduled to take place in Switzerland. This couldn’t get any better as this move is aimed at reassuring his European allies of U.S commitment to shared goals such as democracy. Even ahead of this trip, Biden wrote in the Washington Post op-ed that the trip was all about signalling America's rejuvenated commitment to her partners and allies and to demonstrate how democracy can solve the existing challenges and also deter the rising threats of this new age.

Significant Tensions Still Exist Between Europe And the Biden Administration

As the NATO Summit gets underway in Brussels, the ride isn’t entirely smooth though. Even as he looks to urge NATO unity against a common enemy in Russia and China, the elephant in the room for the Europeans and the U.S include:

  • The recent trade disagreements.

  • Biden’s afghan NATO drawdown caught some allied members off guard.

  • Lack of support for a common ground regarding how to deal with China because most European economies heavily rely on China.

  • More than half of NATO allies aren’t meeting the burden-sharing benchmark of spending at least 2% of GDP in military funding.

What to Expect

Against the backdrop of all these unresolved issues, the NATO Summit is underway and it is still unclear whether Biden will manage to pull off the necessary display of political unity between the U.S and allied European states. And while most European officials have shown trust in Biden’s transatlantic relations it, nevertheless, remains to be seen what will become of this year’s summit, even as the NATO alliance plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and lay the foundation to mitigate Russia’s threat and China’s superpower status.

(Written and edited by: The Decision Maker team)


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