Biden victory will rejuvenate US relations with Europe

Senator Chris Coons says Democrat would ‘focus on open societies’ should he win the race to become President

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to supporters, early Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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A key player in a potential Joe Biden administration has signalled that America will rebuild ties with both Europe and Nato if the Democrat wins the US presidency.

Following a difficult relationship with Mr Trump over the last four years, European leaders are also now making clear their disdain for him.

The once-strong transatlantic alliance could be rebuilt after the man seen as the front runner to become America’s top diplomatic envoy said there would be a substantial change in attitude under a Mr Biden presidency.

“He would re-engage and re-energise our alliances, particularly our special relationship with the UK,” Senator Chris Coons, a close ally of Mr Biden, told the BBC. “I also think the ways in which President Trump has strained the relationship and, in particular, the vital Nato relationship would get a fresh look.

“I would expect our alliances to be stronger and closer and more secure than they have ever been. I would fully expect Mr Biden to focus on democracy and open societies in the face of threats from Russia, China and Iran and from elsewhere in the world.”

Mr Coons, the Delaware senator who is a front runner to become the US Secretary of State, also sounded a warning for Boris Johnson's hoped-for post-Brexit trade deal which had been progressing under Mr Trump.

He supported Mr Biden’s view that any UK trade deal with the EU should not affect the political process or security in Northern Ireland enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement.

“I would expect he [Mr Biden] would be concerned that the Good Friday accords are respected and protected and that the ways in which the UK-EU terms are negotiated doesn’t put at risk the stability of the border terms in Northern Ireland.”

Boris Johnson’s UK government, which potentially has to make up lost ground in establishing a good relationship with Mr Biden, avoided commenting on Mr Trump’s unsupported claims of a stolen election. Nadhim Zahawi, the business minister, said it would be “unwise for a British minister to comment on the great democratic processes of the United States of America”.

In an unprecedented move, several major US networks cut away from a live White House press conference featuring Mr Trump early on Friday, midway through a speech about how the election had been “rigged” over the postal voting system. Facebook has also put warnings on Mr Trump’s recent tweets and could remove his status as a “newsworthy individual” if he is no longer president.

The German foreign minister condemned the US President for pouring “oil on the fire” following his comments on alleged electoral fraud.

Heiko Mass was among the first European politicians to question Mr Trump’s view on the election. “America is more than a one-man show,” he said. “Anyone who continues to pour oil on the fire in a situation like this is acting irresponsibly.” He also told Germany’s Funke media group that it was important for everyone to keep a cool head until all results were in. “Decent losers are more important for the functioning of a democracy than radiant winners.”

Other Europeans have suggested that no matter what the election outcome, the continent has learnt to act independently of US policy under Mr Trump’s administration, including the adhering to the JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran.

“We Europeans have realised that there are some issues on which we can disagree with Washington,” said Federica Mogherini, the former EU foreign policy chief. This is not the best option but it’s possible, and we have a role to play in any case as Europeans and sometimes, take the Iran deal, a life-saving role for international agreements.”

Should Mr Trump be re-elected, it would be a question of “damage control” for Europe, she told the Institute of International and European Affairs think tank. She added that while Mr Trump had damaged transatlantic trust, it had taught the EU a valuable lesson to be more independent.

That democratic process was drawn further into the mire after Donald Trump Jnr suggested that his father should “go to total war over this election”.

French media on Friday reported the US election as a “bewildering nervous breakdown” in the Liberation, while the conservative daily Le Figaro said America was “making a spectacle of itself”.