Welcome to the twelfth 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 from July 6 to July 9, 2021. 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 Biden’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.
U.S.-European relations overall
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Bilateral U.S.-European relationships
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In the news
- April 1
- As Russian troops continued to move along the southeastern border of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for further negotiations on a ceasefire and reaffirmed his commitment to “negotiate a truce as the fastest tactical step.”
- April 1
- Nineteen European Union member states agreed to jointly donate 2.8 million ‘solidarity’ coronavirus vaccines to be shared between Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, and Slovakia.
- April 1
- Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová appointed a new government consisting of two parties, For the People and Freedom and Solidarity, with former finance minister Eduard Heger as the new prime minister. This move ended a month-long government crisis that began when former Prime Minister Igor Matovič unilaterally purchased 2 million doses of the Russian SputnikV COVID-19 vaccine over the protests of his coalition partners, who vowed to quit the government if Matovič remained as prime minister.
- April 4
- Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia refused to participate in EU’s population-based COVID-19 vaccine allocation plan put forth by the Portuguese Council presidency, and as a result, the Czech Republic forfeited more than 140,000 extra vaccine doses. Soon after, however, Hungary, Austria, and Slovenia pledged to respectively donate 40,000; 30,000; and 10,000 COVID-19 vaccines to the Czech Republic.
- April 6
- The European Union, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom met with the United States and Iran in Vienna for talks to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). European officials engaged in shuttle diplomacy between the U.S. and Iranian delegations. The meetings resulted in the creation of two expert-level working groups to continue negotiations.
- April 6
- European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Anakara. In an event later coined “sofagate,” President von der Leyen was left without a chair at the Summit, later stating “[i]t happened because I am a woman. Would this have happened if I had worn a suit and a tie?”
- April 7
- Markus Söder, state premier of the German state of Bavaria, announced that he would sign a provisional agreement to purchase 2.5 million doses of the Russian SputnikV COVID-19 vaccine, conditional on it being approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Shortly afterwards, German Health Minister Jens Spahn told EU health ministers that Germany would begin negotiations to purchase SputnikV.
- April 12
- Following ongoing build-up of Russian military forces on Ukraine’s borders, the G7 Foreign Ministers and the EU High Representative released a joint statement reaffirming Ukrainian sovereignty, calling on Russia to “cease its provocations,” and stating that the full implementation of the Minsk agreements is “the only way forward for a lasting political solution to the conflict.” These calls, however, proved to be unsuccessful, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that satellite imagery showing continued Russian military buildup.
- April 13
- Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced that the United States would increase its military presence in Germany by 500 soldiers. In making the announcement, Secretary Austin said that strengthening U.S.-German ties were a “top priority for the Biden-Harris administration” and lauded Germany’s naval deployment to the Indo-Pacific.
- April 14
- President Biden announced the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by September 11. A NATO statement released the same day indicated that the withdrawal of NATO forces would begin by May 1, concluding, “[o]ur troops went into Afghanistan together, we have adjusted together, and now we are leaving together.”
- April 14
- Pfizer/BioNTech announced that the company would speed up the delivery of 50 million vaccines to be delivered in April 2021, instead of originally slated timeline of the fourth quarter of 2021. In addition, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the beginning of negotiations with Pfizer/BioNTech on a third COVID-19 vaccine contract for an additional 1.8 billion doses to be delivered between 2021 and 2023.
- April 15
- President Biden announced new sanctions on the Russian government and the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats from the United States as part of a U.S. response to Russian election interference, cyberespionage, and occupation of Crimea. The U.S. Treasury Department also announced new prohibitions on “certain dealings” in Russian sovereign debt and targeted sanctions on technology companies that support cyber activities carried out by Russian intelligence services in the United States.
- April 17
- Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Interior Minister Jan Hamáček accused Russian GRU agents of causing a 2014 ammunition warehouse explosion that killed two people. The next day, the Czech government expelled 18 Russian diplomats. The Russian government responded by expelling 20 Czech diplomats.
- April 19
- The German Christian Democrats and Green parties announced their chancellor candidates for the September 2021 federal election, albeit in strikingly different fashion. Though the Christian Democrats eventually backed incumbent party leader and North Rhine-Westphalia state premier Armin Laschet, the move only came after a dramatic weeklong battle with Bavarian state premier Markus Söder, whose last-minute challenge to Laschet deeply divided Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling party. In contrast, the Greens’ announcement of Annalena Baerbock as their chancellor candidate showed a more united front.
- April 21
- The Lithuanian government agreed to new measures to help Belarusian companies and people relocate to Lithuania. Addressing the proposal, Lithuanian Minister for Economy Aušrinė Armonaitė said that “an open-door policy brought Lithuania to EU and NATO […] by opening doors to Belarus businesses and people we help our closest neighbors and make one more step towards faster economic recovery.” The same day, President Putin described the increasing sanctions on Belarus as becoming “a coup attempt” and warned the West not to cross a “red line.”
- April 22
- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu announced that Russian troops would begin withdrawing from the Ukrainian border, ending a three week-long standoff with Ukraine and NATO. NATO welcomed the withdrawal but called for the full withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory.
- April 22
- Following Russia’s refusal to readmit the 20 Czech diplomats it had expelled a few-days prior, the Czech government announced the expulsion of an additional 60 Russian diplomats and staff. The move escalated existing tensions between the Czech Republic and Russia over the 2014 warehouse explosion. Slovakia also announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats, while Germany offered to support the Czech embassy in Moscow.
- April 24
- The United States formally recognized the Armenian genocide, with President Biden stating “[o]ver the decades Armenian immigrants have enriched the United States in countless ways, but they have never forgotten the tragic history that brought so many of their ancestors to our shores. We honor their story. We see that pain. We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.”
- April 26
- Russian prosecutors suspended the activities of opposition figure Alexei Navalny’s political organization and his Anti-Corruption Foundation. The move came ahead of a court ruling that would see Navalny’s organizations branded as “extremist” and be unable to publish material online, hold gatherings, or participate in elections.
- April 28
- The European Parliament ratified the EU-U.K. Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), the trade deal setting out the future relationship between European Union and the United Kingdom after Brexit. The vote cleared the way for the TCA to enter force on May 1, though several sticking points including setting up the governance structure envisioned by the deal and disputes over the U.K.’s decision to postpone the introduction of border checks in Northern Ireland, remain.
- April 29
- The German constitutional court ruled that Germany’s 2019 climate protection law, which envisioned cutting emissions by 55% by 2030 and, for the first time, set binding emissions reduction targets, was unconstitutional because it did not sufficiently detail emissions cutting measures after 2031 and left the responsibility for significant emissions reductions measures to the period after 2030, thus infringing on the freedom of later generations in the eyes of the court. With Germany’s next federal election coming in September, the move reinforced the importance of climate in the coming campaign.
- April 30
- Russia banned top EU officials, including European Parliament President David Sassoli and European Commission Vice President Věra Jourová, from entering the country in retaliation for EU sanctions imposed in March 2021 in response to both the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the persecution of LGBTQ people in Chechnya. The President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the President of the European Parliament stated “[t]his decision is the latest, striking demonstration of how the Russian Federation has chosen confrontation with the EU instead of agreeing to redress the negative trajectory of our bilateral relations.
- May 2
- Members of Germany’s governing Christian Democratic Union nominated controversial ex-domestic intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maaßen to become the CDU’s directly-elected candidate for a Bundestag seat Thuringia. Maaßen resigned from Germany’s domestic intelligence agency after facing heavy criticism for maintaining a cozy relationship with the far-right Alternative for Germany and disputing reports of far-right violence, even contradicting Chancellor Merkel.
- May 4
- Spain’s conservative Popular Party (PP) overwhelmingly won regional elections in Madrid, more than doubling its share of seats in the local chamber. Incumbent regional PP leader Isabel Díaz Ayuso had run her campaign under the slogan of “Freedom,” underlining her relaxed handling of COVID-19 as premier of the Madrid region.
- May 4
- EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovski announced the European Commission had officially suspended efforts to ratify the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), stating that China’s sanctions against members of the European Parliament were “not conducive for [the] ratification of the agreement.”
- May 5
- U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced the United States would support waiving patent and intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines to help expand production. While President Emmanuel Macron of France indicated his support, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany opposed the measure, and Commission President von der Leyen argued that instead, vaccine producing nations should lift export restrictions.
- May 6
- The United Kingdom held its ”Super Thursday” local and regional elections. In Wales, the Labour Party secured half of 60 parliamentary seats, with the Conservatives, Plaid Cymru, and the Lib Dems securing 16, 13, and 1 seat, respectively. Scotland’s Scottish National Party and Greens – two parties in favor of Scottish independence – won a clear majority in the Parliament. Meanwhile, in England, the Conservative party won by more than 16% in the Labour stronghold of Hartlepool and retained a mayoral seat in the West Midlands.
- May 6
- The European Council approved requests by Canada, Norway, and the United States to participate in the Dutch-led PESCO project intended to improve military mobility, marking the first-time non-EU countries participated in PESCO.
- May 8
- Following a meeting in Porto to discuss social issues and the COVID-19 pandemic, EU leaders committed to “reducing inequalities, defending fair wages, fighting social exclusion and tackling poverty,” as well as “fight[ing] discrimination and work[ing] actively to close gender gaps in employment, pay and pensions.” While non-binding, the negotiations surrounding the agreement highlighted the divisions in the European Union, with Hungary and Poland reportedly lobbying to strike the phrase “gender equality” from the document in favor of striving to close “gender gaps.”
- May 9
- The European Union launched its year-long Conference on the Future of Europe. Launched to fanfare and speeches from President Macron, President von der Leyen, and others, the Conference was presented as “a unique and timely opportunity for European citizens to debate on Europe’s challenges and priorities.”
- May 10
- Hungary blocked an EU statement criticizing China for its crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong, the second time in just a few weeks that Hungarian opposition prevented EU foreign ministers from adopting a statement on China’s National Security Law and Hong Kong.
- May 12
- The EU General Court struck down the European Commission’s finding that Luxembourg had granted Amazon an illegal €250 million tax benefit, negating Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s order for Amazon to pay €250 million in back taxes. The same day, however, the Court upheld the Commission’s finding that French energy company Engie €120 million in back taxes to Luxembourg.
- May 13
- The European Commission called on EU countries to ban non-essential travel from India to prevent the spread of what later became known as the Delta COVID-19 variant.
- May 19
- The 12th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting was held in Reykjavik, Iceland, and foreign ministers from all eight Arctic States adopted the Council’s first strategic plan to “maintain a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Arctic region.” The Ministerial also marked the passing of the two-year Chairmanship from Iceland to the Russian Federation which was slated to hold the chair until 2023.
- May 20
- The European Union agreed to open external borders to travelers vaccinated with either the BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The next day, the European Union would agree to eliminate internal travel and quarantine requirements for Europeans who have either been vaccinated, recently tested negative for COVID-19, or have already recovered from the disease.
- May 23
- Belarus forced a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania to make an unscheduled landing in Minsk, where two of the passengers, opposition blogger Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend, were arrested upon landing. In response, the European Union banned Belarusian airlines from flying over EU airspace, and three weeks later, the European Union, United States, and the United Kingdom would impose coordinated sanctions on Belarusian officials.
- May 24
- The United States and European Union held the first high level U.S.-EU dialogue on China and following the meeting, concluded “that the United States’ and EU’s relations with China are multifaceted and comprise elements of cooperation, competition, and systemic rivalry.”
- May 27
- In Kigali, Rwanda, President Macron gave a speech recognizing that France “stood de facto by a genocidal regime” during the 1994 Rwandan genocide and asked for the “gift of forgiveness.”
- May 28
- Germany recognized its role in the atrocities between 1904 and 1908 in what is now Namibia, officially recognizing the events as a genocide. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stated, “[g]iven Germany’s historical and moral responsibility, we will ask Namibia and the descendants of the victims for forgiveness” and provided 1.1 billion euros for a reconstruction and development program.”
- June 1
- Seven EU member states – Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Croatia, and Poland – began issuing EU digital COVID-19 certificates intended to facilitate safe, free movement of citizens in the EU by providing proof that a person has been vaccinated against, received a negative test result for, or recovered from COVID-19. The move came two weeks after the European Parliament and Council agreed to implement the EU digital COVID certificate.
- June 2
- The United States announced 25% tariffs on over $2 billion worth of imports from six countries over their digital services taxes, including Italy, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. However, the tariffs were immediately suspended for 180 days to allow for an international deal to be negotiated.
- June 5
- The G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors backed a historic deal to implement a global minimum tax of at least 15%. A week later at the G7 Leaders Meeting, President Biden and the leaders of the G7 would endorse the proposed tax.
- June 10
- A Moscow court labeled two organizations linked to opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, and the Foundation for Fighting Corruption, ‘extremist,’ in effect dismantling the two organizations and barring individuals affiliated with the organization from running for parliamentary seats in the September 19 election.
- June 10
- The United States and the United Kingdom released The New Atlantic Charter, affirming U.S. and U.K. “commitment to sustaining our enduring values and defending them against new and old challenges.”
- June 11
- The U.S. Department of Defense announced a new $150 million package for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) that includes training, equipment, and advisory efforts, complementing the March 2021 $125 million USAI package.
- June 12
- The United States and the leaders of the G7 launched the Build Back Better World (B3W) Partnership, “a values-driven, high-standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership led by major democracies to help narrow the $40+ trillion infrastructure need in the developing world, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
- June 13
- The G7 Leaders’ summit concluded with a commitment to intensify global vaccine distribution efforts, drive an economic recovery from the pandemic, reform the international economic system to make it fairer and more resilient, develop new global partnerships to help rebuild, and harness the “the power of democracy” to address the biggest global challenges.
- June 14
- The Heads of State and Government of the 30 NATO Allies co-signed the Brussels Summit Communiqué, committing to enhancing NATO resilience and NATO’s ability “ to preserve and shape the rules-based international order,” fostering technological cooperation, and “aim[ing] for NATO to become the leading international organization when it comes to understanding and adapting to the impact of climate change on security,” among other provisions.
- June 15
- The United States and European Union agreed to suspend the 16-year Boeing-Airbus trade dispute, lifting tariffs for five years. In doing so, the United States and the European Union “agreed to work together to challenge and counter China’s non-market practices in this sector that give China’s companies an unfair advantage.”
- June 15
- The European Commission raised €20 billion via a ten-year bond due on July 4, 2031, to support Europe’s recovery from COVID-19 in its first NextGenerationEU transaction – a temporary recovery instrument of “some €800 billion in current prices to support Europe’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and help build a greener, more digital and more resilient Europe.”
- June 16
- Following President Biden and Russian President Putin’s bilateral meeting in Geneva, the United States and Russia agreed to hold an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue to “lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.” Moreover, President Biden warned President Putin that the United States would take action against future cyber and ransomware attacks committed by criminal entities located in Russia, stating “responsible countries need to take action against criminals who conduct ransomware activities on their territory.”
- June 16
- EU Ambassadors extended the Council’s negotiating mandate on the EU asylum agency regulation, aiming ‘to improve the application of asylum policy within the EU, by turning the current European asylum support office (EASO) into a fully-fledged agency.”
- June 18
- The European Council updated the list of third countries for which travel restrictions should be lifted at the external borders of the European Union to include the United States and 13 other countries.
- June 21
- The United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European External Action Service of the EU agreed to place coordinated sanctions in response to the Belarusian hijacking of a Ryanair flight and kidnapping of journalist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega. In addition to the designation of 16 individuals and five entities, the United States imposed visa restrictions on 46 Belarusian officials “for their involvement in undermining or injuring institutions in Belarus, making these individuals generally ineligible for entry into the United States.”
- June 22
- On the 80th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, President Putin published an op-ed entitled “Being Open, Despite the Past” in German newspaper Die Zeit in which he pushed for a comprehensive European security space from the Atlantic to the Pacific and said that the world could no longer afford to “carry the burden of past misunderstandings, hard feelings, conflicts, and mistakes.”
- June 23
- In a Euro 2020 Hungary versus Germany soccer match, German politicians called for the stadium in Munich to be illuminated in rainbow colors in support of the LGBTQ community and in protest against a recently passed Hungarian anti-LGBTQ law. The Union of European Football Associations – the governing body of European soccer – rejected the request, claiming the request to be “political.”
- June 23
- The Russian defense ministry claimed it fired warning shots at the British Royal Navy’s HMS Defender in the Black Sea after the warship ignored a “preliminary warning” against intrusion into Russian territorial waters. However, the U.K. Minister of Defence reported “no warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender,” and they believe “the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black sea and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity.”
- June 23
- The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control released a threat assessment of the delta COVID-19 variant, stating that modeling forecasts show that “70% of new SARS-CoV-2 infections are projected to be due to [the delta] variant in the EU/EEA by early August and 90% of infections by the end of August.”
- The EMA approved the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID -19 vaccine for authorization, becoming the fourth vaccine authorized for use in the European Union.
- June 24
- Following consultations with President Macron of France, Chancellor Merkel of Germany floated the idea of “meetings at leader’s level” between European leaders and President Putin of Russia. EU leaders quickly dismissed this idea, stating “[t]he European Council expects the Russian leadership to demonstrate a more constructive engagement and political commitment and stop actions against the EU and its Member States, as well as against third countries.”
- June 27
- France held the second and final round of its regional elections. With only 33% voter turnout, the liberal-conservative party Les Républicains maintained its hold in seven regions, and the center-left party Parti socaliste maintained its hold in five regions. Macron’s La République En Marche was unable to win in additional regions but maintained its hold in two regions, and the far-right Rassemblement national led by Marine Le Pen failed to take control of any region.
- June 28
- Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven stepped down a week after losing a no confidence vote in the Swedish Parliament and asked for the parliament to find a new government, rather than hold a snap election. Parliamentary Speaker Andres Norlén would begin a “talmansrunda” – speaker’s round – and would have four attempts to find a new head of government.
Europe on the line
Between April 1 and June 30, 2021, President Biden spoke on the phone with Turkish President Erdoğan once (April 23), German Chancellor Merkel once (April 14), and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy twice (April 2 and June 7). President Biden’s call with President Zelenskyy on April 2 is noteworthy for coming immediately on the heels of calls between the Ukrainian president and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
We track President Biden’s phone calls with the leaders of France, Germany, Russia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, whether they had spoken or not, as well as other calls with European leaders of which we were aware. If we missed a conversation, please give us a ring. Sources: the White House.
New COVID-19 variants and low global vaccination rates significantly risk the world’s reopening. First detected in December 2020, the B.1.617.2 – or delta – variant has rapidly increased across the world. 40-60% more transmissible than original COVID-19 strains, by the middle of April 2021, more than 50% of new COVID-19 cases in India were identified as the delta variant. Less than a month later, the delta variant became the majority strain in circulation in the United Kingdom, as well. By the end of the second quarter of 2021, the Delta variant made up almost all cases in Israel (98%), Russia (95%), and Australia (84%).
High vaccination rates may only blunt the spread of the delta variant – underscoring U.S. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky’s remark that the United States faces a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” In Israel, for example, where more than 50% of the population has been fully vaccinated since March 2021, the delta variant quickly became the majority strain in circulation beginning in May 2021. The United Kingdom, another winner of the vaccine race, more than 48% of whose population was fully vaccinated on June 28, saw 98% of its COVID cases come from the delta variant.
In the United States, from April to June, the percentage of people fully vaccinated almost tripled, rising from about 17% on April 1 to 46% on June 30. However, with thousands of doses available to be administered in the United States, the number of doses administered per day has been steadily decreasing since April 2021.
In Europe, despite authorization and distribution issues throughout the first quarter and at the beginning of April, EU members states have quickly increased vaccination rates and are catching up to the United States, with Germany, France, and Italy increasing the percent of fully vaccinated people by 7-fold (5% on April 1 to 37% on June 30), 7.5-fold (4% on April 1 to 31% on June 30), and 5-fold (6% on April 1 to 31% on June 30), respectively.
Throughout the West, vaccine hesitancy – for example, only half of the French population said they would get the vaccine or already have and up to one fourth of Americans would decline the vaccine, even when offered – continues to threaten an already fragile reopening. In July 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron has taken a step to address vaccine hesitancy and to prevent a fourth wave by announcing that people would have to show vaccine certificates to enter many public spaces, including trains, planes, restaurants, and cafes. Yet, such a move appears currently unthinkable in the United States where the Biden administration reportedly fears the political backlash that could result from the use of vaccine passports.
Ultimately, although high-income countries – such as those in the G7 – have reached a higher percent of fully vaccinated people than low- and middle-income countries – such as those in the G20 – the inability to convince people at home to get vaccinated raises questions about the return to normalcy. Countries that have even lower stocks of vaccines, like those in Africa where countries had vaccinated less than 5% of their population as of June 2021, are uniquely at risk from this new variant.
Nb. Because of limitations in the data available from Our World in Data, the averages presented for the G7 and G20 are best approximations. In the graph showing percentages of cases that are the delta variant, no data was available for China, the European Union, or Saudi Arabia, and Canadian and Argentinian data was only available through May 2021, all of which affect the G20 value and, in Canada’s case, the G7 value. In the graph showing vaccination rates, no data was available for Australia, China, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa, which affects the G20 value.
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 twelfth 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 of the Biden administration and covers an eventful quarter. Putin dashed hopes of a stable and predictable U.S.-Russia relationship with a large buildup of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border and tolerance of waves of ransomware attacks by suspected criminal entities in Russia. Multiple leader-level summits in June underscored President Biden’s commitment to restoring diplomatic relations with Europe and to enhancing the competitiveness of democracies. From the agreement reached on a global minimum tax at the G7 to an increased focus on protecting democracy from “state and non-state actors” across the globe, increased U.S. outreach has fostered a new, more ambitious tone in transatlantic relations. Whether this rhetoric is translated into action will be a chief focus of the following months and years.
A few points from this iteration of the survey are worth highlighting.
Following the summits, our survey pool saw ratings for all functional and bilateral relations increase, even in the case of relations with Russia and Turkey which improved only slightly. 100% of our survey pool viewed political relations between the United States and Europe as trending positive. Majorities viewed security and economic relations as improving (64% and 57%, respectively), though a significant minority – nearly 36% in each case – viewed them as trending neutral. Bilateral relations with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom all improved to nearly 7 on a 1-10 scale over the last quarter. Though both remain weak, bilateral relations with Russia and Turkey also improved on the last quarter, with U.S.-Russia relations improving by a full point on the heels of President Biden’s face-to-face summit with President Putin in Geneva.
On the topical questions, our survey pool split over what sort of relationship with Russia might be realistic for the European Union and the United States: 50% disagreed with the sentiment that achieving stability and predictability was realistic, while roughly 21% thought this goal was achievable and nearly 29% were neutral. Nearly 47% thought that fears of a return of Trumpism to the White House in 2024 would not prevent European governments from investing in trans-Atlantic initiatives, compared to 20% who thought they would and 33% who were undecided. Two thirds of our survey pool thought it was too soon to tell whether the Biden administration had succeeded in bringing Europe onboard with its China policy.
As we look ahead to late summer and fall, federal elections in Germany loom large: after nearly 16 years under Chancellor Merkel’s leadership, Germany will elect a new chancellor. Following the recent spate of ransomware attacks from Russia and the U.S., EU, U.K. and NATO condemnation of China for “irresponsible and destabilizing behavior in cyberspace,” we will be watching to see how the trans-Atlantic alliance works to improve cyber defense and set rules of the road in cyberspace. We will also be watching to see how Europe copes with the delta wave of COVID-19 and if the alliance can forge a common position on climate change in advance of November’s COP-26 summit in Glasgow.
Thank you again for reading the Trans-Atlantic Scorecard.
Trans-Atlantic Scorecard maintained by Agneska Bloch, Sam Denney, Colleen Dougherty, Caroline Klaff, and Lucy Seavey. Digital design and web development by Eric Abalahin, Abigail Kaunda, Yohann Paris, Rachel Slattery, and Cameron Zotter.