Transatlantic relations will improve under Biden, but Europe will not be his number one priority. Europeans must strengthen their capacity to protect their own interests.

Joe Biden’s election as US president will make it easier for the EU and the US to forge a common transatlantic approach to many of the challenges facing them. European leaders greeted the news of Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump with enthusiasm, with High Representative Josep Borrell welcoming “the chance to work once again with a US president who doesn’t consider us a ‘foe’”.

Borrell’s comment encapsulates the main change Biden will bring: unlike Trump, Biden will not try to undermine the EU or NATO. He believes that international institutions and multilateral co-operation serve US interests. And whereas Trump sought to divide the EU by supporting authoritarian populist leaders such as Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, Biden will back more mainstream pro-EU leaders. European populists will no longer be able to look to the US president for legitimation of their actions. That will undermine their political influence in the EU. But the populists will not disappear: their support is largely driven by perceived economic injustices and cultural conflicts within European societies, rather than by international politics.

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