Trans-Atlantic Scorecard — July 2020

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, France's President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel look into documents during the first face-to-face EU summit since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium July 20, 2020. John Thys/Pool via REUTERS

Brookings - Robert Bosch Foundation Transatlantic Initiative Welcome to the eighth edition of the Trans-Atlantic Scorecard, a quarterly evaluation of U.S.-European relations produced by Brookings’s Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE), as part of the Brookings – Robert Bosch Foundation Transatlantic Initiative. To produce the Scorecard, we poll Brookings scholars and other experts on the present state of U.S. relations with Europe — overall and in the political, security, and economic dimensions — as well as on the state of U.S. relations with five key countries and the European Union itself. We also ask about several major issues in the news. The poll for this edition of the survey was conducted July 10 to 15, 2020. The experts’ analyses are complemented by a Timeline of significant moments over the previous three calendar months and a Snapshot of the relationship, including a tracker of President Trump’s telephone conversations with European leaders, figures presenting data relevant to the relationship, and CUSE Director Thomas Wright’s take on what to watch in the coming months.


April 1
A Russian military plane carrying masks and ventilators landed in New York, where personal protective equipment against the coronavirus had been in short supply. The move drew criticism on both sides of the Atlantic, to which the Russian government responded by saying that the United States and Russia had split the costs of the equipment evenly and that Russia could depend on aid from the United States in the future. In a press briefing , President Trump called the shipment “very nice.”
April 2
In a final ruling, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) judged that Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic had broken their obligation to take their share of asylum seekers during the refugee crisis in 2015.
April 2
Leaders of 13 European People’s Party (EPP) member parties issued a joint statement calling for the expulsion of the Hungarian Fidesz party from the EPP following the passage of a new law granting Prime Minister Viktor Orbán the power to rule by decree indefinitely.
April 5
Queen Elizabeth II addressed the United Kingdom about COVID-19 in a rare televised speech – her fifth special address to the nation in her 68-year reign.
April 6
The Trump administration officially designated a Russia-based white supremacist group as a terrorist organization.
April 6
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was taken to the intensive care unit after his coronavirus symptoms worsened. He would be moved from the intensive care unit back to the general hospital on April 9.
April 6
The EU announced new tariffs on select U.S. imports in response to President Trump’s decision to extend duties on imported steel and aluminum.
April 8
The ECJ ordered Poland to suspend the Disciplinary Chamber at the Supreme Court of Poland, a body which was empowered to prosecute judges.
April 8
The Eurogroup’s finance ministers failed to reach an agreement on an EU economic response to COVID-19 after 16 hours of negotiations.
April 9
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia, and other countries agreed to temporarily cut oil production by a record 10 million barrels per day in response to plummeting demand due to coronavirus-related lockdowns. Although the deal marked the end of an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, oil prices continued to drop, eventually dipping into negative territory on April 20.
April 9
The Eurogroup’s finance ministers reached an agreement on a €540 billion plan to help their economies but did not agree on the issuance of corona-bonds.
April 9
Malta faced accusations of sabotaging a migrant boat as it was approaching its coast.
April 9
Christophe Castaner, Fernando Grande-Marlaska Gómez, Luciana Lamorgese, and Horst Seehofer, Interior Ministers of France, Spain, Italy, and Germany, called for a “binding mechanism” to facilitate asylum applicants being settled throughout Europe, with “other measures of solidarity” besides relocation being accepted ideally as an exception.
April 12
Prime Minister Johnson was discharged from the hospital and taken to Chequers, his country retreat, to recover. Johnson released a video statement thanking the National Health Service (NHS), which he called Britain’s “greatest national asset,” for saving his life.
April 14
President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would halt funding to the World Health Organization.
April 15
G20 finance ministers agreed to suspend debt payments for the world’s poorest countries through the end of 2020 to help them manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
April 16
In an interview, French President Emmanuel Macron said the future of the European Union depended on “financial transfers and solidarity” and that “we are at a moment of truth, which is to decide whether the European Union is a political project or just a market project.”
April 16
EPP President Donald Tusk called for an economic “blitzkrieg” in order to save member states like Italy and Spain. He warned that Europe’s response to COVID-19 thus far had damaged its reputation in member states hard-hit by the pandemic and in would-be members in the Western Balkans, to the benefit of China and Russia. He also said a decision regarding EPP membership of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party was necessary due to Orbán’s efforts to expand his power under the cover of pandemic response.
April 17
The European Commission issued legal guidelines for apps used to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and contact tracing. In particular, data collected by voluntary apps should be controlled by national health authorities, and individuals choosing to use the apps would retain control over their data, in accordance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy Directive. Subsequently, the Commission issued a set of cross-border interoperability guidelines for approved apps, attempting to link member state backend systems despite issues posed by divides in app infrastructure.
April 19
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte called for common European bonds in order to marshal all of the EU’s economic capacity against COVID-19, which presented a unique historical moment requiring a “leap in political quality.”
April 20
In a press conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said “Germany will only do well in the long run if Europe does well” and that a COVID-19 recovery package would need to be factored into the next EU budget. She assured the audience, though, that Germany would show solidarity with other EU member states “over and above, that which we already have with the €500 billion [financial aid package].”
April 20
The second round of Brexit negotiations began between Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s Chief Negotiator, and David Frost, his U.K. counterpart.
April 22
Before a virtual summit of the European Council, Michael Roth, Germany’s Europe minister, warned that violations of core EU values during the COVID-19 pandemic would result in “financial consequences,” indicating support for a rule of law mechanism in the EU’s budget for 2021-2027. Roth’s comments came on the heels of opportunistic consolidation of executive power in Hungary and Poland amid the coronavirus crisis.
April 22
Executives from 22 major European companies published a joint letter to EU leaders saying that in “[r]ecovering from the crisis, only European solutions can work, putting the Single Market as the central instrument.” They called for the European Council to ensure the flow of goods and services across EU borders and lauded European Commission proposals for “Green Lanes” to prevent unnecessary stoppages in the transport of goods and workers.
April 22
President Trump signed an executive order suspending immigration to the United States for 60 days to protect “already disadvantaged and unemployed Americans from the threat of competition for scarce jobs from new lawful permanent residents” in a post-COVID-19 economic recovery.
April 23
In a letter to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Council President Charles Michel, and European Parliament President David Sassoli, the mayors of major European cities including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Nuremburg, and Utrecht pledged to take in the estimated 5,500 unaccompanied minors in refugee camps on Greek islands, saying that “Europe needs to step up to provide shelter, comfort and safety” for the most vulnerable.
April 23
A virtual summit of the European Council concluded that the European Commission should draw up a new EU budget for 2021-2027 that would finance the post-COVID-19 economic recovery through a combination of loans and grants. Some estimates put the total amount at €2 trillion.
April 24
The European External Action Service (EEAS) published a report on online disinformation regarding COVID-19, which specifically called out “Russia and – to a lesser extent – China” for targeting disinformation and conspiracy narratives at European and other audiences. The report caused controversy as Chinese diplomats reportedly pressured the European Union to soften language in the report.
April 25
In a weekend video podcast, Chancellor Merkel forecasted that the priorities of the German presidency of the European Council, scheduled to begin on July 1, would shift to focus on combating the virus and its effects, prioritizing the health of European citizens, and Europe’s climate. Specific potential reforms included establishing efficient health systems in all states, a financial transaction tax, and minimum tax rates across EU member states.
April 26
The Chinese Embassy in Paris published an op-ed on its website entitled “Why is the COVID-19 epidemic so politicized?” claiming that COVID-19 had in part become “politicized” because certain Western countries had begun to lose faith in liberal democracy and that Chinese socialism would prove better able to “concentrate means for the sake of broader goals.”
April 28
The European Commission announced an additional €194 million of support for security, stability and resilience in the Sahel during the EU-G5 Sahel video conference. The conference was co-chaired by European Council President Charles Michel and Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, President of Mauritania. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, EU High Representative Josep Borrell, and President of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat were also in attendance.
April 29
The European Commission launched an infringement procedure against Poland over its December 2019 judicial reform, which it said undermined the independence of the Polish judiciary by making it easier to punish judges.
April 30
In a hearing before the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee, EU High Representative Josep Borrell denied that the EEAS had watered down a report on disinformation due to Chinese pressure, but hinted that such pressure might have exerted. “Calls to present complaints or to advise in favor of a given course of action are the daily bread of diplomacy,” Borrell said, “We, at the European Union, practice them constantly.”
April 30
The EU and other World Trade Organization (WTO) members formally launched a new appeals body for trade dispute settlements while the WTO’s original Appellate Body remains blocked by the United States.


May 3
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Council President Charles Michel, Italian President Giuseppe Conte, President Macron, Chancellor Merkel, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote an op-ed calling an “unprecedented global cooperation” to confront COVID-19 “our generation’s duty” and pledged the funds raised by global fundraising efforts to organizations working to develop COVID-19 diagnostics and treatments.
May 4
Rolf Mützenich, leader of the Social Democrats in the German Bundestag, called for U.S. nuclear weapons stationed on German soil to be removed and warned that the Trump administration’s nuclear strategy had made the use of nuclear weapons more likely. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, also of the SPD, pushed back on Mützenich’s comments, saying that “German foreign and security policy must never take a separate path.”
May 5
The German Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the European Central Bank’s 2015 bond buying program went beyond its mandate, declared the 2018 ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) allowing the bond buying to be invalid, and ordered the German government to ensure that the European Central Bank carried out a “proportionality test” on bond buying. This ruling marked the first time that a national constitutional court had challenged a ruling by the ECJ.
May 5
The first round of U.S.-U.K. trade talks officially began with a video call between U.K. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The first round of talks was expected to last two weeks, with further rounds to follow every six weeks.
May 5
The German Federal Prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for Dmitriy Badin, a Russian hacker suspected to be working with the Russian intelligence agency GRU, for the 2015 hack of the Bundestag that resulted in 16 terabytes of data being stolen. The next week, Chancellor Merkel confirmed the existence of hard evidence that the attack had been carried out by Russia.
May 6
In its Spring 2020 Economic Forecast, the European Commission warned that the EU’s economy was estimated to contract 7.5% in 2020 due to COVID-19, a deeper contraction than during the 2009 financial crisis.
May 6
The EU ambassador to China Nicolas Chapuis, along with the 27 EU member state ambassadors to China, published a joint op-ed, in the China Daily celebrating 45 years of EU-China ties and highlighting increased EU-China cooperation, while noting “differences, notably on human rights.” The same day, it was revealed that the EU had succumbed to Chinese pressure to censor the article in order to publish it in the China Daily, removing a line that stated the coronavirus had originated in China.
May 7
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with the foreign ministers of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia issued a joint statement commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. “Lasting international security, stability and peace,” they wrote, depended on adherence to international law and norms, including state sovereignty and territorial integrity.
May 7
Polish presidential elections scheduled for May 10 were postponed until June 28 due to COVID-19. Previously, the governing Law and Justice (PiS) Party had been pressing to move forward with a short-notice mail-in vote despite opposition concerns about the ongoing pandemic, feasibility, and potential electoral fraud.
May 10
Prime Minister Johnson laid out the “shape of a plan” to reopen the United Kingdom in an address to the nation. In a joint statement, Prime Minister Johnson and President Macron announced that quarantines would not be required for travelers between their two countries and that an inter-governmental working group would be created to handle border issues.
May 12
Nine high-level former European Commission officials wrote a letter to Commission President von der Leyen and her Commission, urging that the EU adopt a new tack in “relaunch[ing] multilateral approaches” to overcome the weaknesses in EU trade policy, such as China’s lack of reciprocity and the World Trade Organization’s inability to enforce existing trade rules. The officials called on the Commission to exert more leadership “to counteract the centrifugal and selfish tendencies of the member states.
May 13
The French Assemblée nationale passed a new hate speech law that would require companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter to remove hate speech within 24 hours or face fines of up to €1.25 million. Prior to its adoption, the law had faced criticism in France due to fears that it could result in lawful content being taken down and from the European Commission, which urged the French government to delay the bill until an EU-wide response to online hate speech could be adopted. France’s Constitutional Court would reject most of the draft law on June 18, citing its infringement on freedom of expression.
May 13
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced that Germany had reached an agreement with Austria, France, and Switzerland to reopen their land borders for travel by June 15. The same day, the European Commission presented guidelines for reopening the European Union, providing epidemiological, economic and social, and containment-based conditions for reopening.
May 15
The third round of U.K.-EU talks on their future relationship ended with little progress made, according to both U.K. and EU chief negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier. A key sticking point in the negotiations was whether the United Kingdom would abide by EU laws and standards in return for single market access.
May 16
As part of Italy’s reopening of its COVID-19 lockdown, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that Italy would no longer require EU citizens to go into quarantine after crossing the Italian border. The same day, German and Luxembourgish Foreign Ministers Heiko Maas and Jean Asselborn symbolically opened the Germany-Luxembourg border while standing on a bridge over the Moselle River.
May 16
A data breach of a European Parliament database associated with the European People’s Party exposed sensitive information, including passwords, connected to the accounts of 1,200 elected officials and staff, as well as 15,000 other accounts associated with European affairs experts.
May 18
Chancellor Merkel and President Macron announced a new plan to fund Europe’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery through €500 billion in debt backed by all 27 EU member states, to be distributed as grants through the EU budget. While the plan marked a sharp reversal in Germany’s traditional opposition to joint European debt, it faced near immediate pushback from the EU’s “Frugal Four,” Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden, in a video conference of EU finance ministers the next day. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte responded that the proposal was “a bold and significant step,” but that more action was required, including greater financial resources.
May 18
President Trump threatened to permanently cut U.S. funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) and to pull the United States out of the WHO if the body did not commit to “major substantive improvements within the next 30 days.” He claimed that the WHO had ignored reports of the coronavirus’s spread in Wuhan and leveled charges of “political gamesmanship” at the organization’s head, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
May 19
President Macron lost his absolute majority in the Assemblée nationale when seven members of parliament defected from his La République en marche party (LREM) to form a new parliamentary grouping, “Ecology, Democracy, Solidarity,” to advocate for “social and environmental justice,” according to one of its new members, Aurélien Taché.
May 20
The European Commission called for member states to invest heavily in public health and protect jobs in order to mitigate the economic effects of the coronavirus. It also announced normal fiscal rules regarding excessive deficit spending would be waived due to the “extraordinary macroeconomic and fiscal impact of the pandemic.” The Commission’s recommendations focused both on short-term measures to overcome the economic shock of the pandemic and short- to medium-term proposals to fuel a green recovery.
May 21
The Trump administration announced its intention to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, arguing that “Russia’s implementation and violation of Open Skies […] has undermined this central confidence-building function of the Treaty.” The treaty, which went into effect in 2002, allowed its 35 members to fly over each other’s territory with sensitive surveillance equipment as an assurance that they were not preparing for military action.
May 25
George Floyd, an African-American man, was murdered in police custody in Minneapolis, MN after Derek Chauvin, a white officer, used his knee to pin Floyd by the neck. Chauvin and three other officers at the scene were charged with second-degree murder and aiding and abetting murder, respectively. Floyd’s death, which bystanders captured on video, re-escalated tensions around police brutality and systemic racism in the United States, sparking protests and riots in cities across the country.
May 26
Top officials in charge of digitalization for France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain wrote a joint op-ed criticizing top technology firms for imposing standards on democratically elected governments in their effort to combat the coronavirus. They called on Europe to “redefine its relationship to the digital ‘Global Players’” and said that digital sovereignty is the foundation of a sustainable European competitiveness.
May 27
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented her plan for a European recovery fund as part of a revised EU budget for 2021-2027. The plan would envision the EU taking on €750 billion in joint debt, €500 billion in grants and €250 billion in loans, to fund its recovery.
May 28
Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States jointly condemned China’s decision to impose a new national security law on Hong Kong, which aims to quash activity viewed as endangering Chinese national security and potentially allows activist groups to be banned.
May 29
Following a virtual meeting of EU foreign ministers, EU High Representative Josep Borrell said that while China’s move to impose a new national security law on Hong Kong was of “grave concern,” it would not endanger EU-China investment deals. According to reporting, in the foreign ministers’ meeting, only Sweden raised the issue of levying sanctions against China for the move, to which Borrell responded that this was not the correct way to address differences with China.
May 29
Greece announced that it would open its borders to tourists from 29 countries, including EU member states like Estonia and Germany and non-member states like China, Japan, and New Zealand, beginning on June 15.
May 30-31
Protests in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis and against police violence and racism spread to the major European cities including Berlin, Copenhagen, Dublin, and London.


June 1
To pave the way for a presidential photo op, Washington, DC police and National Guard units used flash-bang explosions and tear gas to disband protesters gathered outside the White House. Across the United States, officials and law enforcement employed curfews and similar crowd dispersal tactics to clamp down on people protesting police brutality.
June 2
Thousands gathered in Paris to protest a medical report that seemingly exonerated French police implicated in the 2016 death of Adama Traoré. A competing report commissioned by Traoré’s family showed that he died due to asphyxiation, similarly to George Floyd.
June 3
Italy reopened its borders for tourists from all European Union member states. Previously, reopenings by Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, and Switzerland had either left restrictions in place for Italians or required Italians take extra steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
June 3
Chancellor Merkel, European Council President Charles Michel, and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to postpone a planned summit between the EU27 and China, originally scheduled for September 2020 in Leipzig, due to the coronavirus.
June 4
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier announced the launch of Gaia-X, a measure intended to boost the EU’s digital sovereignty in the field of cloud computing. Founded as a nonprofit, Gaia-X would bring together the cloud computing capacities of its numerous member companies to allow them to share data freely while maintaining the EU’s data privacy regime.
June 5
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovakia published a joint position paper calling the EU’s self-regulatory approach to disinformation “insufficient and unsuitable.” Instead, they called for a new framework with accountability and transparency requirements for tech companies and online platforms.
June 5
President Trump issued an order to reduce the number of U.S. troops stationed in Germany by 9,500 and to limit the total number of U.S. troops stationed in Germany at any one time to 25,000. In an op-ed, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien later explained the decision as part of an effort to modernize the deployment of U.S. troops, calling the practice of stationing large numbers of troops on large bases in places like Germany “obsolete.”
June 9
A joint letter to the European Commission, initiated by Denmark and signed by France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, and Poland, criticized the EU’s response to the coronavirus, noting medical-supply shortages and uncoordinated responses between member states. The letter outlined proposals to improve the bloc’s pandemic preparedness, namely proposing coordinating the development of a coronavirus vaccine, “possibly” with EU funds.
June 10
For the first time, the European Commission labelled China, in addition to Russia, as a key spreader of disinformation connected to COVID-19 in an update to its strategy to combat disinformation.
June 10
EU High Representative Josep Borrell and Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton wrote in an op-ed that Europe’s “virtuous” soft power was no longer enough and that the “era of a conciliatory, if not naïve, Europe has come of age.” They called for Europe to improve its hard power dimension, not just in its military aspects, but also in Europe’s ability “to use its levers of influence to enforce its vision of the world and defend its own interests.”
June 11
The Élysée denied a media report claiming President Macron suggested he would resign and call a snap election in a videoconference.
June 11
In an executive order, President Trump authorized sanctions and visa restrictions against International Criminal Court (ICC) employees in an attempt to impede the ICC from investigating alleged war crimes committed in Afghanistan by U.S. military and intelligence officials. EU High Representative Josep Borrell expressed “serious concern” about Trump’s decision.
June 12
The United Kingdom confirmed that it would not seek an extension to the Brexit transition period, set to end on December 31, 2020. The United Kingdom’s new customs arrangement would proceed in three phases, beginning on January 1, 2021, with a full reinstatement of border controls on goods occurring in July 2021.
June 12
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote to the finance ministers of France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom to announce the United States would suspend negotiations at the OECD over a global digital tax, saying the talks were at an “impasse” and threatening a U.S. response with “commensurate measures” to a digital services tax adopted by other countries. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called the move a “provocation to all OECD partners” and reiterated the desire for a French digital tax in 2020. The European Commission subsequently announced that it would revive plans for an EU-wide digital tax as a response.
June 13
France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands signed an agreement with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to supply Europe up to 400 million doses of coronavirus vaccine beginning at the end of 2020.
June 14
In an address to the nation, French President Macron intimated that he would reset the last two years of his presidency by refocusing on green economic policies, social solidarity, and national industrial capacities.
June 15
U.K. Prime Minister Johnson met with European Commission President von der Leyen, European Council President Michel, and European Parliament President David Sassoli to continue negotiations concerning the future of the U.K.-EU relationship, agreeing that they needed to inject “new momentum” into talks. Johnson unilaterally declared that a deal could be agreed upon within six weeks.
June 15
Germany’s Economy Ministry announced it was acquiring 23% of CureVac, a biotech company developing a coronavirus vaccine – an investment of €300 million. In March, the Trump administration had sought to purchase exclusive access to CureVac’s vaccine.
June 15
EU Foreign Ministers met via videoconference with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss transatlantic relations and foreign policy. EU High Representative Borrell proposed continuing a bilateral EU-U.S. dialogue on China, but there was no response from Pompeo. Similarly, the Americans did not respond to German Foreign Minister Maas’ call for multilateral cooperation to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
June 15
The European Union imposed a 10.9% anti-subsidy tariff on glass fiber imported from Egypt. The tariff marked the first time that the EU sought to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which supported the Egyptian glass fiber factories, by targeting exports from a third country for allegedly skirting duties imposed on Chinese exports.
June 15
After months of negotiations, Ireland’s Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green parties signed a coalition agreement that would see Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin and Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar, then serving in a caretaker role, alternate as Taoiseach, with Varadkar returning to this role in 2022. The coalition entered into force on June 27, after the Greens, the last of three parties to endorse the agreement, voted by a wide margin to adopt it.
June 16
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a press conference that the United States had “made it clear that no final decision has been made on how and when” it would pull American troops out of Germany – effectively admitting that President Trump had not warned the alliance about his decision.
June 16
The Hungarian parliament moved to end the country’s “state of danger” but granted the government extensive powers that would allow for future rule by decree.
June 16
The EU opened antitrust investigations into Apple for concerns revolving around how it controls third-party offerings on its devices. Other Big Tech companies, including Amazon, Facebook, and Google, are also under antitrust scrutiny on both sides of the Atlantic for potential abuses of their ‘gatekeeper’ roles. As part of the forthcoming EU Digital Services Act, tech companies will face greater liability for content on their sites, and those that serve as digital marketplaces may be obliged to clearly separate their roles of owning a platform and conducting business on it.
June 16
EU member states agreed on a set of technical specifications for the secure exchange of information between national contact-tracing apps. Apps launched with centralized protocols for uploading data to a central, state-controlled server – such as France’s “StopCovid” app and the U.K.’s NHS COVID-19 app – would be incompatible with the Commission’s May interoperability framework.
June 17
An excerpt of former U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton’s memoir revealed that President Trump had asked China for help to boost his chances of reelection in November.
June 17
The G7’s foreign ministers and High Representative Borrell issued a joint statement condemning China’s move to impose a national security law on Hong Kong, describing it as “seriously undermining the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle and the territory’s high degree of autonomy.”
June 17
The EU adopted new rules to impose fines on recipients of non-EU subsidies, block acquisitions of EU companies by recipients of non-EU subsidies, or exclude the recipients of non-EU subsidies from public procurement processes. Framed by the European Commission as essential to creating a level playing field in the Single Market, the new legislation could be used to target a wide variety of companies operating in the EU, including from China, Russia, and the United States.
June 18
In an op-ed, French Secretary of State for European Affairs Amélie de Montchalin, German Europe Minister Michael Roth, and Czech Deputy Europe Minister Aleš Chmelař condemned discrimination in Europe as “still all too common,” and called for greater equality for LGBTQ people.
June 18
India, Mexico, Norway, and Ireland won temporary seats on the United Nations Security Council for 2021-2022.
June 18
The European Parliament passed an amendment to the resolution in the European Commission’s annual report on competition policy, calling the Commission to increase “efforts to forcefully counter unfair competition and hostile behavior” from foreign state-owned or government-linked companies and “propose immediately a temporary ban on [such] foreign takeovers of European companies,” targeting Chinese firms in particular.
June 19
Members of the European Parliament passed a resolution strongly condemning the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May, criticizing President Trump, and calling for both the U.S. and EU to tackle structural racism and police brutality. It also passed a resolution condemning a potential conflict of interest by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.
June 19
The European Council summit to discuss the EU’s next budget and COVID-19 recovery efforts ended with little progress towards consensus and revealed instead little change in the sharp disagreements between EU member states over how the recovery package would be financed and even its size. European Council President Charles Michel stated his intention to convene a follow-up summit in mid-July to break the impasse.
June 22
Chinese President Xi Jinping participated in a summit with European Commission President von der Leyen and Council President Michel. Speaking after the videoconference, von der Leyen condemned China for targeting European hospitals and health care institutions with cyberattacks amid the COVID-19 crisis and stressed that China’s use of disinformation would not be tolerated. She did note, however, that the summit had been useful in advancing negotiations on trade and a planned EU-China investment agreement.
June 23
Over 1,000 parliamentarians from 25 European countries signed a joint letter to European governments and leaders condemning President Trump’s plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Israeli annexation of West Bank territory, set to take place as early as July 1, 2020.
June 24
Four days before Polish presidential elections, President Trump hosted President Andrzej Duda in Washington. During a news conference at the White House, Trump said that he would “probably” send some of the troops he plans to withdraw from Germany to Poland.
June 25
Shortly before a planned trip to the White House for peace talks with Serbian leaders, Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaçi was charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes by a special court in the Hague. Kosovan Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti subsequently pulled out of the Washington talks, but met in Brussels with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Commission President von der Leyen, European Council President Michel, Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi, and Miroslav Lajčák, who was recently appointed as the EU special representative for the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.
June 25
In a non-binding opinion, Priit Pikamäe, an advocate general of the Court of Justice of the European Union, determined that Hungary’s treatment of asylum seekers entering the country violated EU law.
June 28
Poland’s incumbent President Andrzej Duda won the first round of Poland’s presidential election with 43.5%, followed by the opposition mayor of Warsaw Rafał Trzaskowski. The second round was scheduled for July 12.
June 28
In France’s second round of municipal elections, previously postponed due to the coronavirus, Macron’s party suffered disappointing results. Incumbent Socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo was reelected in Paris, while the Green Party won several major cities including Strasbourg, Lyon, Bordeaux, and Besançon.
June 29
Micheál Martin of the centrist Fianna Fáil was named Ireland’s new prime minister in a government coalition. Outgoing Prime Minister Leo Varadkar of Fine Gael will take over in the second half of the five-year mandate.
June 30
The European Council announced that it would begin lifting travel restrictions for citizens of 15 non-EU countries with, among other criteria, COVID-19 infection rates lower than the EU’s two-week average. Among these countries were Algeria, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, but not the United States. China was also included in the list, pending a reciprocal easing of Chinese restrictions for EU citizens.


Europe on the line

Between April 1 and June 30, 2020, President Trump spoke on the phone with French President Macron six times (April 3, April 26, May 20, May 28, May 30, June 22)Russian President Putin four times (April 10, April 12, May 7, June 1)Turkish President Erdoğan three times (April 19, May 23, June 8)U.K. Prime Minister Johnson twice (April 21, May 29)German Chancellor Merkel once (May 8)Portuguese President de Sousa once (May 1), Polish President Duda once (April 18), and Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán once (May 6)He did not speak with European Commission President von der Leyen or European Council President Michel in that time frame. 

A graphic showing calls made between President Trump and European leaders.We track Trump’s phone calls with the leaders of France, Germany, Russia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, whether they have spoken or not, as well as other calls with European leaders of which we are aware. The White House stopped releasing readouts of the president’s calls with foreign leaders in July 2018. If we’ve missed a conversation, please give us a ring. Sources:,,,, press reports.


The first two quarters of 2020 saw the United States, Europe, and the world shut down due to the spread of the coronavirus. In many places, restrictions on travel and lockdowns forced people to stay in their homes at the risk of facing fines in many places. As border controls were imposed, travel halted between the United States and Europe, as well as among EU member states. In many countries, then, the story of the coronavirus – and of the public’s adherence to lockdown measures – can be told by the degree to which driving (indicative of longer distance travel) and walking (indicative of short distance or recreational travel) dropped.



In hardest-hit Italy, for example, the month of March 2020 was pivotal, both in the degree to which COVID-19 spread and to which people altered their daily habits. On March 1, the rates of driving and walking by Italian citizens dropped to 83.48% and 65.47% of their January 2020 levels – relatively unsurprising given that there were only approximately 1,700 confirmed coronavirus cases in the country. By April 1, this story had changed completely. With more than 110,000 confirmed cases, driving and walking levels in Italy cratered to 18.92% and 14.45% of their January 2020 levels. By July 1, with the rise in confirmed cases slowed, Italians took back to the roads and streets, with levels of driving and walking rising to 128.26% and 84.93% of their January 2020 equivalents.



COVID-19 lockdowns in the United States initially followed a path similar to Italy’s. A rapid expansion of confirmed cases led to a drastic clampdown on mobility during the month of March. According to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker, between March 1 and April 1, confirmed cases in the United States skyrocketed from 30 to 214,205.* Unsurprisingly then, by April 1, the rates of driving and walking in the United States dropped by more than 50% (to 55.49% and 47.41% respectively) compared to their January 2020 levels. Yet while the viral spread of Italy’s cases slowed between May and June (33,332 additional cases between May 1 and July 1), that of the United States did not (1,581,000 additional cases between May 1 and July 1). Nevertheless, Americans began to abandon their commitment to coronavirus lockdowns over this same period. Between May 1 and July 1, U.S. driving rates increased from 67.56% to 149.63% of their January 2020 average, while walking rates increased from 69.58% to 118.56% over the same period.


To be sure, these data obscure certain regional differences in coronavirus infection rates and subsequent restrictions. In Germany and the United States, especially, federal governance structures placed responsibility for COVID lockdowns and reopenings in the hands of subnational authorities. As a result, recent increases in mobility in both countries may be explained by progressive reopenings in areas hit earlier in the year, while regions only now seeing peaks in caseloads struggle to lock down enough to control the spread of the virus. Nonetheless, the stark contrast in German and American aggregate performance is revealing. Germany saw only a 7% increase in cases nationwide between June 1 and July 1, a rate similar to Italy’s (3% increase over the same period). In the United States, on the other hand, much as in Russia, mobility data show that many have prematurely reverted a more premature reversion to pre-coronavirus routines – in defiance of still rapidly rising infection rates.


*NB. To simplify reporting of confirmed coronavirus cases, we exclusively used data from Johns Hopkins University.

What to Watch

Center on the United States and Europe Director Thomas Wright lays out events, issues, and potential developments to watch for in the months ahead.


I am delighted to share with you the eighth edition of the Trans-Atlantic Scorecard, a quarterly evaluation of U.S.-European relations produced by Brookings’s Center on the United States and Europe, as part of the Brookings – Robert Bosch Foundation Transatlantic Initiative.


This is the second scorecard published during the COVID-19 crisis. Europe seems to be back on its feet although life is far from normal. The United States, on the other hand, has experienced a massive spike in cases and the daily death toll is rising again. There is virtually no travel across the Atlantic and little cooperation to speak of. But there are some signs of progress. Most notably, the European Union reached agreement on a deal for the collectivization of debt as part of its efforts to fund a recovery from COVID-19.


There are a few points from this iteration of the survey worth highlighting.


The overall state of U.S.-European relations declined slightly, mainly because of the lack of coordination on COVID and the withdrawal of some U.S. troops from Germany. This was partly offset by the prospects of a trans-Atlantic dialogue on China, an initiative that was mooted on many occasions but always prevented from occurring due to President Trump’s hostility toward the European Union.


Of all the bilateral relations, U.S.-German relations declined the most sharply (by 0.7 to 2.7). The other bilateral relations moved up or down slightly (in the 0.2 to 0.3 point range). Overall, the United States still has the strongest ties with the United Kingdom (ranked at 4.8).


Additionally, several issues from our Survey merit highlighting as they pertain to events either on or just over the horizon. Almost 60% of respondents thought that COVID-19 would accelerate EU and U.S. re-shoring of supply chains away from China. Experts surveyed were split on whether a dialogue on China would improve U.S.-EU relations (33.3% agreed that it would, while 38.1% disagreed). And 55% thought that the United Kingdom would not secure a trade deal with the European Union by December 31 (25% said they would).


Looking ahead, two issues loom large. We are now entering the height of the U.S. election season, which begs the question whether President Trump will make any major foreign policy moves to improve his standing in the polls. Possible options include new tariffs on the European Union or the further withdrawal of U.S. forces from Germany. The second issue is the prospect that COVID-19 will intensify, and thus that the global economy will continue to deteriorate as we head into the fall. There has been little trans-Atlantic cooperation to date so we will be looking to see if that changes.


Thank you for reading the Trans-Atlantic Scorecard.

Trans-Atlantic Scorecard maintained by Agneska Bloch, Sam Denney, Caroline Klaff, and Filippos Letsas. Additional research by Chloe Suzman. Digital design and web development by Eric Abalahin, Abigail Kaunda, Yohann Paris, Rachel Slattery, and Cameron Zotter.