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Biden set to focus on EU at expense of ‘special relationship’

3 min read

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

Joe Biden is preparing to cast aside Donald Trump’s emphasis on the “special relationship” if he wins the US election, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose, as advisers to the presidential hopeful revealed that he plans to focus on rebuilding America’s relations with the European Union.

One influential foreign policy adviser to Mr Biden told an audience in Germany last week that, if elected, the former vice-president would quickly issue a “declaration of support for the European Union” and “European integration”.

Anthony Gardner, a former US ambassador to the EU who chairs Mr Biden’s working group on the bloc, suggested that the relationship between the UK and America under a Biden presidency would partly depend on the ties Britain decides to form with the EU.

Mr Gardner, who is based in London and is being touted as Mr Biden’s possible choice for US ambassador to the UK, described Brexit as “the biggest own-goal that I’ve seen in my lifetime” and separately suggested that a Biden White House would be uninterested in “super ambitious trade deals”.

Mr Biden’s team is understood to be discussing plans for a trip to Europe in the first 100 days of his presidency if he is elected on Tuesday.

Nato is preparing to hold a leaders’ summit in Brussels in March if Mr Biden wins the election, with the presidential candidate’s team having indicated that he would use the trip to conduct a mini European tour. Options under discussion include a major speech in Germany or at the European Parliament in Brussels.

In a discussion at the ESMT business school in Berlin on Tuesday, Mr Gardner said: “If Biden is elected I believe quickly, perhaps first day, [there will be a] declaration of support for the European Union, declaration of support for European integration, declaration of support in favour of Nato, the lynchpin of transatlantic alliance, which has been weakened because of this administration’s policies.”

He added: “I won’t talk about Brexit, I’ve lived it, everyone’s bored by it, Europe needs to move on. It’s the biggest own-goal that I’ve seen in my lifetime. And all of the analysis that we did under the Obama administration, which were intensive, we looked at all the areas of our interaction with Europe … our conclusion was that in almost every area Brexit would be negative for the United States, for Europe and for the UK. That analysis I believe has proven to be correct.

“Here’s a dramatic difference: Donald Trump has only believed that the US-UK link was important, he was a cheerleader  for Brexit. Joe Biden believes that the triangle of relationships, US-UK, UK-EU, US and EU, all have to work together, and you will see statements to that effect.”

Mr Gardner told the audience that he sits on several of Mr Biden’s policy groups, including the panels on trade, western Europe, and the EU, which he chairs – although he insisted he was speaking as a “private citizen” and not for the campaign.

One idea being considered by Mr Biden’s foreign policy advisers is for him to announce that the tariffs Mr Trump has placed on European products – everything from planes to steel to whisky and cheese – would be dropped.

Mr Biden’s aides are understood to have indicated that he would use a Nato summit in the spring to launch a mini tour of the EU. There is currently no suggestion that his trip would include a visit to the UK.

Sources close to the Biden campaign denied that Mr Biden planned to sideline Britain, suggesting that the presidential hopeful would simply be attempting to recover the US-EU relations that has been diminished under Mr Trump.

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