An “interesting shift” could be observed when French and German economic ministers visited the US this week, says Annett Meiritz in Handelsblatt. A few months ago, Joe Biden appeared “conciliatory” when faced with concerns about how his green energy subsidies could damage cross-Atlantic trade. Now the US president insists he will “not apologise for investing to make America strong”. In a clear sign of this new “America first” stance, his State of the Union address didn’t contain a single mention of “trade”, and instead focused on his plans to boost US industry. Europe must prepare itself for when cheap steel tariffs between Washington and Brussels expire in October. The President will always “put his own interests” above supporting his international partners.
Things are going to get much worse, says Jeremy Cliffe in The New Statesman. Biden is the product of an era in which Europe was the “primary focus of US foreign policy”. His career was shaped by the Cold War and its fall-out: Senator Biden negotiated the Salt II nuclear treaty with the Soviets in the 1970s; championed intervention in Bosnia in the 1990s; and lobbied Bill Clinton to invest major efforts in Northern Ireland’s peace process. But the generation of politicians who will follow him – even Democrats like Kamala Harris with similar globalist values – didn’t have their “instincts forged in that era” and will never have Biden’s “strong emotional connection” to Europe. For still-younger members of Congress, Europe barely even figures: they’re more concerned with negotiating treaties with the Global South on issues including global warming and migration. Rather than complaining about Biden, European leaders should wake up to the fact he’s likely the last “Atlanticist” US leader.