PANEL A: Economic Dimension
The world economy has experienced its most substantial contraction in decades, and continuous waves of lockdowns have given little opportunity for recovery. In addition to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Transatlantic relations have been strained by Donald Trump’s disengagement policy, the repercussions of Brexit, and incompatible approaches towards China. In the past year, the European Union’s economy shrank by nearly 7%, while the United States’ GDP fell by 3.5%. Though forecasts predict that the Eurozone’s economy will reach its pre-crisis levels by 2022, some contractions are expected throughout 2021, and its impact will be uneven across EU member states. Thus far, President Biden’s actions indicate robust re-engagement with Europe with measures such as a strengthening of the WTO or the possible salvaging of the TTIP, indicating his desire to undo the damages inflicted by the past administration. Despite Biden’s efforts to restore the Transatlantic economic partnership, the US and the EU will need to coordinate their China policies and decide how to deal with a post-Brexit Britain.
Will separate trade deals and strategic policies towards China cause a schism in the recovering relations? Will the two sides roll back the lingering tariffs of Trump’s trade wars? How will the EU and US engage with the post-Brexit UK? Will Biden be the necessary catalyst for Transatlantic reconciliation?
PANEL B: Political dimension
Joe Biden has inherited a country filled with internal divisions. Partisanship seems to be at an all-time high as the US is rocked by the Capitol Hill riot, anti-police sentiments with the backdrop of BLM protests, and the nearly ubiquitous level of disinformation. President Biden will need to resolve the country’s domestic turmoil before his administration can confidently turn its attention to salvaging external relations. However, President Biden has already demonstrated his desire to bring America back into the international realm with extensive reengagement plans. On his first day in office, the President signed fifteen orders which included rejoining the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, continuing the Iran Nuclear Deal, and ending the flight ban on several Muslim countries. The European Union’s recent decision to pursue unilateral deals with China goes directly against the Biden administration’s desire to form a partnership for Western-Chinese trade and political relations. These independent moves might be seen as counteracting the efforts made by President Biden to rekindle Transatlantic relations and also impending future foriegn policy efforts concerning Southeast Asia.
Will Europe and the US be able to extend their partnership beyond trade? Can the historical allies come together to form policy for emerging technologies? Will the two sides be able to agree upon mutual regulatory mechanisms?
PANEL C: Security dimension
COVID-19 responses have predominated the world’s security concerns. Border control, rapid testing, vaccine distribution, and the detection of new strains remain a priority for most countries. Even still, traditional security threats have not disappeared. Transatlantic allies should return their attention to traditional and emerging threats such as China’s regional ambitions, Russian disinformation and cyber-attacks, regional conflicts, terrorism, or the rise of right-wing extremism. To form a resilient partnership, the US and the EU must create mutually agreed-upon engagement strategies and political policies. In addition to security risks in Asia, the EU is experiencing political corruption along its border which may threaten the stability of migratory flows and safety of asylum seekers. Nonetheless, there are promising developments among the numerous security concerns. Biden’s promise to strengthen NATO following Trump’s disengagement from the alliance has reassured EU and NATO members of the United States’ commitment to Transatlantic relations. While it is still too early to see the true impact of President Biden’s initial re-engagement policy, his intentions and actions thus far are promising.
Will reengagement be enough to compensate for the losses incurred during the Trump administration? Will improved economic and social relations facilitate a more comprehensive security alliance? Will Transatlantic allies be able to form mutual strategies to address Chinese and Russian threats?