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U.S. President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron take part in the final session of the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall in Britain, June 13, 2021.  Doug Mills/Pool via REUTERS
Report

Trans-Atlantic Scorecard — October 2021

Brookings - Robert Bosch Foundation Transatlantic Initiative Welcome to the thirteenth 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 October 5 to October 8, 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.

Scorecard

U.S.-European relations overall

1 10
1.2

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U.S.-European relations by topic

Political
1 10
1.2

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Security
1 10
1.2

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Economic
1 10
1.2

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Bilateral U.S.-European relationships

Germany
1.2
France
1.2
U.K.
1.2
Turkey
1.2
Russia
1.2
EU
1.2

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  • Germany France U.K. Turkey Russia EU
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In the news

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  • 7
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July

July 1
Slovenia began its rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU). The country’s priorities for its presidency include “post-pandemic economic recovery, the rule of law, and “the autonomy of the European Union in strategic areas.”
July 1
130 countries and jurisdictions joined a new initiative for international tax reform that seeks to “ensure a fairer distribution of profits and taxing rights among countries with respect to the largest Multinational Enterprises,” as well as “to put a floor on competition over corporate income tax.”
July 1
The EU Digital COVID Certificate, digital proof that a person has either been vaccinated against COVID-19, a negative test result, or recovery from the virus, officially entered into application. Holders of the certificate, according to the European Council, “should in principle be exempt from free movement restrictions” between EU member states.
July 1
France’s top administrative court ruled that the government’s current efforts to combat climate change were insufficient and that more needed to be done to reduce emissions. The court imposed a March 31, 2022, deadline for a more ambitious plan.
July 2
German Chancellor Angela Merkel traveled to the United Kingdom (U.K.) for her last official visit as chancellor. Topics of discussion with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson included the Northern Ireland protocol, COVID-19 related travel restrictions, and general post-Brexit relations. The meeting came two days after the German and British foreign ministers signed a joint declaration pledging “closer future cooperation on foreign and security policy.”
July 2
The United States Army vacated Bagram Airfield, formerly the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan, in accordance with U.S. President Joe Biden’s mid-April announcement of a total withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country.
July 5
French President Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Merkel met virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping. During the meeting, the three discussed EU-China relations, as well as climate protection, international trade, and the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
July 6
The United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the United States issued a trans-Atlantic condemnation of Iran’s plans to enrich uranium to 20 percent purity. The foreign ministers of the U.K., France, and Germany, in a statement, noted with “grave concern” the reports of Iran taking steps to produce enriched uranium, while U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price called Iran’s decision “worrying.”
July 7
Stefan Löfven, head of the Swedish Social Democratic party, was reinstated as prime minister following his resignation one week prior amid a disagreement within his coalition over housing policy. Just over a month later, on August 20, Löfven would announce that he would step down as both prime minister and party leader in November.
July 8
Members of the European Parliament voted 459 to 147 to condemn recent anti-LGBTIQ legislation passed in Hungary “in the strongest possible terms.” The new rules in Hungary, which prohibit LGBTIQ content from being featured in school educational materials or TV shows for minors, were described as a “clear breach of EU values, principles and law” and the parliament called on the European Commission and member states to take legal action.
July 8
Belarus expelled two diplomats from Lithuania amid increasing tensions between Minsk and Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland due to high numbers of migrants crossing into their nations from Belarus. In response to what Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called “unfriendly actions of the Belarusian authorities.” Vilnius, in turn, ordered the diplomatic staff of the Belarusian Embassy in Lithuania to be reduced to one employee.
July 10
G20 finance ministers met in Venice and signed off on the new global initiatives for tax reform. According to the G20’s post-meeting Communiqué, the endorsement was “a historic agreement on a more stable and fairer international tax architecture.”
July 11
Led by President Maia Sandu, Moldova’s center-right Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS), which ran on a pro-EU and anti-corruption platform, won 63 of the parliament’s 101 seats. The Electoral Bloc of Communists and Socialists will be PAS’s main opposition, having won 32 seats, and the Eurosceptic, national conservative Șor Party won the final six seats. Mihai Popșoi, a PAS vice president, said after the results, “[w]e hope that it will be possible for Moldova to apply to join the EU during our new mandate.”
July 11
After an April 2021 election resulted in no party forming a majority in parliament, Bulgaria held its second national election in three months. No clear winner emerged from the election, however, as the anti-establishment There Is Such a People party (ITN) received 24.1 percent of the vote, followed by the center-right GERB party with 23.5 percent and the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) with 13.4 percent. A third parliamentary election will be held on November 14.
July 12
The EU announced the postponement of publication of its digital tax proposal less than 24 hours after U.S. Secretary Treasurer Janet Yellen—in her first visit to Brussels as a member of the Biden administration—voiced clear opposition to the EU’s proposed digital levy tax.
July 14
The European Commission adopted its “Fit for 55” package of climate initiatives, with the goal of cutting EU greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by the year 2030 and reaching climate neutrality by 2050.
July 14
5,000 troops were present at Bastille Day celebrations in Paris, as France honored European partners who have assisted the French special forces task force in the Sahel. In a speech, President Macron noted, “[i]n the Sahel we are building an intervention framework where France leads, which is something very few militaries in the world know how to do — to be honest only the U.S. so far knew how to do it.”
July 14
U.S. lawmakers launched the Congressional Friends of Belarus Caucus with the goal of “support[ing] the Belarusian democratic movement” and encouraging President Biden to meet opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. After meeting with State Department officials and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Tsikhanouskaya met with President Biden at the White House on July 28.
July 15
Angela Merkel visited the White House on her last official trip to Washington as German chancellor. President Joe Biden and Chancellor Merkel shared agreement on issues regarding energy and the environment but expressed disagreements over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Moreover, Biden and Merkel released two deliverables: the Washington Declaration, a document that affirms Germany and the United States’ “commitment to close bilateral cooperation in promoting peace, security, and prosperity around the world;” and the German-American Futures Forum, a conference that “bring[s] together Germans and Americans… to be able to analyze and propose solutions to global problems going forward.”
July 15
U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and Russian Special Presidential Representative on Climate Issues and Adviser to the President of Russia Ruslan Edelgeriyev released a joint statement committing to the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals, agreeing to work bilaterally on the pursuit of net-zero emissions and to cooperate on climate-related issues in the Arctic, and promoting a successful COP26 conference in Glasgow, in November.
July 17
The European Union surpassed the United States for the first time in the share of population with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton tweeted that the EU “did so by remaining open and exporting half of our production to 100+ countries.”
July 19
At the annual Batumi Conference in Georgia, the presidents of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia stood with European Council President Charles Michel and jointly proclaimed a shared commitment to a European future. The statement also served as a rebuke to Russia, noting, “we welcome the reconfirmation of the EU’s five guiding principles for the EU-Russia relations, and we are ready to intensify out guiding principles with the EU on strengthening resilience and combatting hybrid threats.”
July 21
Nearly one week after Angela Merkel’s visit to Washington, the United States and Germany reached a deal that would allow for the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline without targeted U.S. sanctions. The agreement included the appointment of a special envoy from Germany to negotiate the extension of the 2019 Russia-Ukraine gas transit agreement, a Climate and Energy Partnership between the US and Germany to reduce dependence on Russian energy, and the establishment of a Green Fund for Ukraine, which will provide the country with a $175 million initial donation, followed by $70 million from Germany to facilitate a transfer away from coal.
July 26
The United States announced that its existing travel restrictions would remain in place, citing a rise in cases due to the Delta variant. This came in contrast to the EU, which first announced recommendations in May to open external borders to vaccinated travelers.
July 28
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell announced in an interview that the EU would prepare a report reviewing its relationship with China for the second time in 2021, and that the report would be released by the end of the summer. The new EU-China strategy, adopted by the EU Parliament on September 16, outlined six pillars on which Europe’s new approach with China should be built upon, including “engagement on international norms and human rights,” “building partnerships with like-minded partners,” and “fostering strategic autonomy and defending European interests and values.”

August

August 2
The chairs of the parliamentary foreign affairs committees of the US, U.K., Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Estonia, Ireland, and Latvia issued a joint statement in opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The countries “with regret note[d] the recent decision of the United States and Germany on Nord Stream 2, which entails resuming completion of the project.”
August 2
The German frigate Bayern departed for a six-month mission to the Indo-Pacific in order to support Operation Atalanta—a counter-piracy military operation formally known as the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Somalia, monitor UN sanctions against North Korea, and perform common exercises with partners in the region. China expressed displeasure with the mission, and, in mid-September, rejected the German warship’s request to port in Shanghai.
August 4
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights announced that for the first time since 1993, the group would “not be able to send observers for the upcoming elections to the Duma due to the limitations imposed by the Russian Federation authorities on the election observation.”
August 4
The EU reached a deal with the U.S. COVID-19 vaccine maker Novavax to secure as many as 200 million doses of the company’s vaccine. On the same day, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for a moratorium on COVID-19 booster vaccines until every country’s population reaches a rate of full vaccination of 10 percent.
August 5
The home affairs, migration ministers, and state secretaries of Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, and the Netherlands signed a joint letter asking the European Commission that deportations continue for rejected asylum seekers from Afghanistan, despite significant inroads made by the Taliban throughout the country. Nearly a week later, both the Netherlands and Germany reversed their position and halted deportations of Afghans. Denmark and Belgium also followed suit after the Taliban came to power on August 15.
August 6
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Sixth Assessment Report. The analysis concluded that the 1.5 degrees Celsius target set by the US, EU, and others will be breached in all possible scenarios, “unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.” The report also linked extreme weather events with human-induced climate change, emphasizing that “every region is projected to increasingly experience concurrent and multiple changes in climatic impact-drivers.”
August 9
The United States, United Kingdom, and Canada issued new sanctions against Belarus. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the sanctions were targeted at individuals or entities “involved in the continuing violent crackdown on peaceful protests; connected to the May 23, 2021, Ryanair incident; or [who] profit[ed] from or sustain[ed] the Belarusian regime at the expense of the Belarusian people.” This action was the largest round of sanctions the US has imposed on Belarus to date. In response, Belarus revoked the US’s appointment of Julie Fisher as ambassador to Belarus and demanded that Washington reduce its embassy staff in Minsk to five people.
August 9
Russia announced it would send additional aerial fire-fighting equipment to help combat wildfires in Greece following a request from Athens for aid and assistance.
August 10
China recalled its ambassador to Lithuania after Vilnius set up a new diplomatic office in Taiwan. In response, U.S. State Department Spokesman Ned Price stated, “[w]e stand with our Ally Lithuania and condemn the People’s Republic of China’s recent retaliatory actions… [t]he U.S. supports our European partners as they develop ties with Taiwan.”
August 11
President Biden announced that the first of two Summits for Democracy will take place virtually on December 9 and 10, to “galvanize commitments and initiatives across three principal themes: defending against authoritarianism, fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights.”
August 11
A bill with new media regulations passed in Poland’s lower house of parliament that restricts companies outside the European Economic Area from owning a majority stake in any Polish media company. This includes the U.S. media giant Discovery, which would be forced to sell TVN—a popular broadcaster that has been critical of the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party. Poland’s upper house of parliament later rejected the bill on a vote of 53 to 37.
August 15
Taliban forces took control of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the German parliament’s foreign relations committee, tweeted that “[t]oday is an immeasurable catastrophe. It is the result of the fatal wrong decision by the U.S. to rush to leave Afghanistan & our inactivity following this decision. A failure of the West with dramatic consequences for Afghanistan and our credibility.”
August 15
Markus Söder, state premier of the German State of Bavaria and head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU)’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), announced that he would not challenge Armin Laschet of the CDU as the combined parties’ chancellor candidate.
August 20
Chancellor Merkel travelled to Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time since Germany and the United States struck a deal on the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Merkel and Putin were unable to agree on an extension of the 2019 Russia-Ukraine gas transit deal past 2024. On the same day, the United States tacked on additional sanctions against ships and companies assisting with the completion of Nord Steam 2, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continued to insist that Nord Stream 2 is a “dangerous weapon.”
August 23
Lithuania and Poland both announced the construction of fences along their respective borders with Belarus as a response to migrants continuing to enter their countries from Belarus.
August 24
Leaders of the G7 met virtually to address the crisis in Afghanistan. Germany, France, and Britain pushed President Biden to extend the deadline for the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan past August 31, however Biden rejected these requests.
August 25
The Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court ruled that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is not exempt from European Union guidelines that require pipeline owners and suppliers of gas to be separate entities. The ruling came as a setback to Gazprom, the owner of Nord Stream 2 AG, who is also a producer of gas and exporter from Russia.
August 26
Two bombs were set off by IS-K suicide bombers outside Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport in large crowds attempting to flee the country. The blasts caused hundreds of deaths, including 170 Afghan civilians and 13 U.S. service members, and left more than a hundred injured.
August 30
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed that the United States “completed the U.S. military evacuation of civilians and the removal of all U.S. forces from Afghanistan,” marking an end to the 20-year war.
August 30
The European Union removed the United States from its list of approved coronavirus travel countries, adding restrictions on non-essential travel from the US. The announcement came less than three months after the United States was first added to this list, which is nonbinding for individual EU member states.
August 31
The Council of the EU released a statement outlining nine steps for the EU to take following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, which include prioritizing the evacuation of EU citizens and Afghan nationals “who have cooperated with the EU and its Member States and their families,” “coordinat[ion] with international partners” on areas of humanitarian aid, and “stand[ing] determined to act jointly to prevent the recurrence of uncontrolled large-scale illegal migration movements.”
August 31
Alar Karis, Director of the Estonian National Museum, was elected president of Estonia by the country’s parliament. Karis—the sole candidate—received 72 out of 80 parliamentary votes, with the support of the two governing parties: the Estonian Center Party and the Estonian Reform Party. The remaining eight parliamentarians left their ballots blank.

September

September 1
The European Commission announced that 70 percent of adults in the EU were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Disparities among rates in individual member states persisted however, with Bulgaria and Romania only 20 and 32 percent, respectively.
September 1
German Health Minister Jens Spahn floated the idea that sanctions be issued against countries that fail to provide information about future virus outbreaks. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO, echoed these calls at the inauguration of a Berlin-based virus-monitoring center, also named the WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence. Much like the World Trade Organization’s power to enforce sanctions against noncompliant countries, these sanctions, if agreed upon, would provide the WHO with enforcement authority.
September 1
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced that an arms deal had been reached between Belarus and Russia. Russia will supply Belarus with approximately $1 billion worth of weapons—military planes, helicopters, and potentially S-400 surface-to-air missiles—by 2025.
September 1
President Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the Oval Office. In remarks before their meeting, Biden expressed that “the United States remains firmly committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression and our support for Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.” Biden also announced a new strategic defense framework between the two nations, a $60 million security assistance package, and a “new energy and climate dialogue to help Ukraine diversify its energy supplies while supporting our climate goals relating to global warming.”
September 10
Denmark announced that it would be the first EU country to drop all remaining coronavirus restrictions, no longer requiring a “COVID pass” to enter restaurants, nightclubs, or other public spaces. The country also dropped quarantine requirements for all individuals except those infected with the coronavirus.
September 12
Construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was completed. However, the pipeline did not yet open for operation, as it waited for pieces to be checked, a safety certificate to be issued, and a certificate confirming compliance with EU gas regulations.
September 13
The Norwegian Labor Party won in the country’s general election, defeating the Conservative Party of incumbent Prime Minister Erna Solberg 26.4 percent to 20.5 percent The Norwegian Center Party came in third with 13.6 percent of the vote, the right-wing Progress Party was fourth with 11.7 percent, and the Socialist Left Party rounded out the top five with 7.5 percent.
September 15
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivered the State of the European Union address in Strasbourg. In her speech, von der Leyen pointed to the EU’s successes on vaccination (both rates and donations), reemphasized the Union’s ambition for increased powers on matters of public health, announced a European Defense Summit to be headed by French President Macron during France’s council presidency, and promised to draft a new EU law to combat violence against women before the year’s end.
September 15
The United States, United Kingdom, and Australia announced a new security pact, dubbed AUKUS. According to a joint leaders statement, the deal seeks to “deepen diplomatic, security, and defense cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.” AUKUS resulted in Canberra’s abandonment of a multi-billion-dollar submarine deal with France dating back to 2016 and acquisition of U.S.-made nuclear-powered submarines instead. The move was met with fury from Paris, as France cancelled events with the United States and Australia and recalled its ambassadors to both nations.
September 19
Results of the three-day Russian election indicated that the ruling United Russia party would maintain its majority in the Duma, however the party that backed Vladimir Putin lost about a fifth of its support. In a statement, the State Department declared the elections were “not conducive to free and fair proceedings,” and that the US does not recognize Duma elections held on Ukrainian territory.
September 20
The annual United Nations General Assembly opened at the U.N. headquarters in New York City. In his address to the international body, President Biden emphasized that the US “is not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs.”
September 20
Jeff Zients, head of the White House’s COVID-19 Response Team, announced that the United States will lift its coronavirus restrictions on air travel for vaccinated noncitizens in November. EU Ambassador to the United States Stavros Lambrinidis tweeted, “Travel ban lifted! Vaccinated, pre-flight tested Europeans will again be able to travel to the US from November, just as vaccinated Americans are today allowed to travel to the EU.”
September 22
President Biden and President Macron spoke for the first time since the announcement of the AUKUS security pact. A joint statement released after the call noted that “[t]he two leaders agreed that the situation would have benefitted from open consultations among allies on matters of strategic interest to France and our European partners” and Biden promised to reinforce America’s support of France’s counter-terrorism operations in the Sahel. It was also announced that Biden and Macron would “open a process of in-depth consultations” and that the French Ambassador to the United States would return to his post.
September 22
President Biden and EU Commission President von der Leyen announced the establishment of a new partnership to ramp up vaccine distribution to the rest of the world, the “Agenda for Beating the Global Pandemic Vaccinating the World.” Both sides agreed to purchase an additional 500 million vaccine doses for donation.
September 22
After his meeting with President Biden in the oval office, British Prime Minister Johnson said a U.S.-U.K. Trade Deal was off the table. Instead, Johnson suggested that the United Kingdom would focus on smaller, incremental steps with the US on trade.
September 26
The center-left Social Democrats (SPD), led by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, won Germany’s parliamentary election with 25.7 percent of the vote. Angela Merkel’s CDU and Bavarian sister party the CSU with chancellor candidate Armin Laschet at the helm, finished second with 24.1 percent. The Green Party finished in third with 14.8 percent, and the Free Democrats (FDP), or Liberals, came in fourth with 11.5 percent. Although the far-right Alternative for Germany party received about 10 percent of the vote nationally, it won a plurality of votes in the eastern states of Thuringia and Saxony. The Left party finished with 4.9 percent.
September 26
Iceland held its parliamentary elections, and the three governing parties won 37 out of 63 seats, increasing their majority. The left-green party of Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir performed the worst among the governing three.
September 26
Competition law was suspended in the United Kingdom to counter fuel shortages which have left thousands of fueling stations to run dry.
September 28
Despite uncertainty earlier in the month that the council would proceed, EU and U.S. officials met in Pittsburgh to convene the inaugural Trade and Tech Council (TTC). According to the Inaugural Joint Statement, the US and EU found agreement in the areas of investment screening, export controls, artificial intelligence, semiconductors, and global trade challenges.
September 28
Less than two weeks after the AUKUS announcement, France and Greece announced the signing of a defense pact which includes plans for Athens to buy three French frigates. The deal comes amid continuing tensions between Turkey and Greece over territorial disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean.
September 29
European Parliament leaders agreed to set up a new EU-U.K. Parliamentary Assembly, which will consist of 35 lawmakers from London and Brussels. The European People’s Party will receive nine of the seats, the Socialist & Democrats eight, Renew Europe five and the Greens four. Smaller political groups will send MEPs for the remaining nine seats.
September 30
French Ambassador to the United States Philippe Étienne returned to Washington from his recall to Paris following the announcement of the AUKUS deal and met with both U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Snapshot

Figures

Part I: Natural Gas Prices

 

The price of natural gas in Europe* has increased dramatically this quarter, intensifying an already upward trend in prices over the last year. Natural gas costs in the US have also – albeit by smaller rates in comparison to Europe – risen substantially in the same period, roughly doubling over the past year. In September 2020, natural gas prices were at $3.95 per Metric Million British Thermal Unit ($/MMBtu) in Europe and $1.92/MMBtu in the US. A year later, these have increased to $22.84/MMBtu and $5.11/MMBtu, respectively – 578% and 266% of their 2020 values.

 

 

The United Kingdom has been particularly hard hit. U.K. National Balancing Point (NBP) rates – the pricing standard for natural gas in the U.K. – were at 237.69 British Pounds per Thermal Unit (£/Therm) on October 1, 2021 – a 495% increase from their October 15, 2020, value of £39.95/Therm. As in Europe more broadly, the most substantial increases took place in the third quarter. Indeed, from July 1 to September 30, 2021, U.K. natural gas prices nearly tripled in value, rising from £88.08/Therm to £241.30/Therm.

 

 

Several factors have contributed to natural gas price jumps. Firstly, lower than normal supplies of natural gas, coupled with cooler temperatures as winter approaches in the northern hemisphere, have led to an increase in prices. On September 1, 2021, the percentage of working gas in storage in Europe was at 68.09%, compared to 91.08% a year earlier, a drop of roughly 25% before the winter season had even begun. Low storage is in part due to the long winter of 2020-21 and will continue to lead to higher natural gas prices as demand continues to rise. Secondly, restarting the global economy after COVID-19-related shutdowns has substantially increased the demand for energy, including natural gas. This, in turn, has increased the cost of gas. Thirdly, China’s own aggressive consumption of natural gas, which has tripled since 2011, compounded by stagnant natural gas deliveries from Russia (who is trying to use the shortage as a bargaining chip to try to accelerate approval of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline) have helped contribute to the upward trend.

 

*European prices were calculated using rates from the Dutch Title Transfer Facility – the pricing standard for natural gas in northwestern Europe excluding the British Isles (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic). U.S. prices were calculated using the nationwide pricing standard from Henry Hub, Louisiana.

 

Part II: Visa Appointment Wait Times in Schengen Area Capitals

 

The following table reflects the wait for U.S. consular appointments for a non-immigrant visa (NIV) in Schengen area capitals as of mid-October 2021. It shows long wait times in almost all capitals, meaning that those looking for a NIV or seeking to renew a NIV are unable to do so in a timely manner. Student visas are generally being processed more quickly.

 

 

Average Wait Times for Non-Immigrant Visa Appointments in Schengen Area Capitals (in days) 
Country (Capital)  Type of Visa 
  Visitor Visa  Student/Exchange Visitor Visa  All Other Nonimmigrant Visas 
Austria (Vienna)  999  9  7 
Belgium (Brussels)  999  7  90 
Czech Republic (Prague)  163  2  2 
Denmark (Copenhagen)  999  78  220 
Estonia (Tallinn)  7  2  2 
Finland (Helsinki)  999  999  999 
France (Paris)  285  3  285 
Germany (Berlin)  999  3  999 
Greece (Athens)  999  1  1 
Hungary (Budapest)  999  999  999 
Iceland (Reykjavik)  999  90  90 
Italy (Rome)  999  51  999 
Latvia (Riga)  7  7  7 
Lithuania (Vilnius)  999  2  2 
Luxembourg (Luxembourg)  999  16  999 
Malta (Valletta)  60  45  60 
Netherlands (Amsterdam)  999  122  150 
Norway (Oslo)  999  2  9 
Poland (Warsaw)  999  7  7 
Portugal (Lisbon)  60  5  1 
Slovakia (Bratislava)  999  999  999 
Slovenia (Ljubljana)  999  2  2 
Spain (Madrid)  999  18  66 
Sweden (Stockholm)  999  999  999 
Switzerland (Bern)*  999  80  999 

Source: U.S. Department of State. “Visa Appointment Wait Times,” October 14, 2021. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/wait-times.html. 

Values of “999” indicate that the service is provided in emergency cases only. 

*The US Embassy in Switzerland also serves as the US Embassy to Liechtenstein 

 

As of mid-October 2021, less than a quarter of U.S. embassies in Schengen area capitals were offering non-emergency appointments for all categories of visitor visas (Prague, Tallinn, Paris, Riga, Valletta, and Lisbon). All others face long appointment wait times, or emergency-appointment-only restrictions in at least one of the visitor visa categories. Embassies in four Schengen area capitals (Helsinki, Budapest, Bratislava, and Stockholm) are offering emergency appointments only.

 

For the six U.S. embassies in the Schengen area capital cities that are offering non-emergency appointments for visitor visas, the average wait time is 116.4 days. For the 20 other capitals, appointments for visitor visas are emergency-only. For the 21 U.S. embassies offering non-emergency appointments for student or exchange visas, the average wait time is 26.3 days. Finally, for non-emergency appointments for all other NIVs in Schengen Area capitals, the average wait time is 58.9 days (emergency-only for nine capitals).

 

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 thirteenth 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.

 

The third quarter of 2021 has seen the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the announcement of AUKUS — the trilateral Indo-Pacific security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, the announcement that the U.S. travel ban on Europe will be lifted, and the German federal election to determine Chancellor Angela Merkel’s successor. Whether these events and developments will lead to a reckoning for Europe and U.S.-European relations remains to be seen, but a few points from this iteration of the Trans-Atlantic Scorecard offer a snapshot of the effect experts believe they have had on US-Europe relations.

 

Unsurprisingly, given the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the announcement of AUKUS, U.S.-European relations dropped from an average of 6.6 on a 1-10 scale at the end of the second quarter of 2021 to 5.3 at the end of the third. Political and security relations, meanwhile, dropped 1.8 and 1.5 points, respectively. Only a third of our survey pool, however, saw U.S.-Europe relations trending negatively overall and almost 50% described U.S.-European economic relations as improving. Bilateral relations between the US and Germany, the U.K., Turkey, and Russia were mostly stable from last quarter, while US-French relations suffered a dramatic 2.8-point decrease (from an average of 6.4 to 3.6) and US-European Union relations decreased by 1.1 points.

 

On the questions specific to events and developments of this quarter, our survey pool was split on the issue of permanently requiring vaccination against COVID-19 for travelers entering the US and EU: 52% agreed with making this a permanent policy, while almost 31% disagreed. Almost 87% of respondents disagreed that America’s NATO partners would never again join the United States in an out-of-area military intervention after Afghanistan. 59% thought that the United States’ treatment of France in the handling of the AUKUS deal was a betrayal of trust, while only 9% disagreed (32% were neutral). Regarding the next German government’s China policy, 59% said that a more hard-edged China policy would be pursued regardless of the makeup of the coalition. Finally, half of our survey pool predicted that the US and the EU would take a joint approach to the COP26 conference in order to pressure China to make greater commitments to combat climate change.

 

Looking ahead to the final quarter of 2021, several summits are scheduled to take place: the G20 in Rome, COP26 in Glasgow, the Paris Peace Forum, and President Biden’s Summit for Democracy. Although the coalition-formation negotiations have not yet concluded in Germany, the presidential campaign season in France is picking up ahead of April 2022 elections. Following the recent AUKUS deal, we will keep a special eye on trans-Atlantic security relations in the coming months, and how debates about the future of NATO and European foreign and security policy address technological and military challenges posed by China. We will also be waiting to see how trans-Atlantic trade talks evolve after the first Trade and Technology Council and how the European Union responds to political challenges from Poland and other member states.

 

Thank you again for reading the Trans-Atlantic Scorecard.

Acknowledgments:

Trans-Atlantic Scorecard maintained by Agneska Bloch, Erik Brown, and Lucy Seavey. Digital design and web development by Eric Abalahin, Abigail Kaunda, Yohann Paris, Rachel Slattery, and Cameron Zotter.

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