EU-USA Summit: time for unity in the face of multiple crises

President Joe Biden welcomes European Union leaders Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen to the White House on Friday for an EU-U.S. summit that will seek to deliver a message of unity on both Gaza and Ukraine.

The summit meeting comes against a backdrop of a multiplication of crises in the world, including the war between Israel and Palestinian Hamas. American and European leaders are keen to display a united front, pleading for the strengthening of their “strategic partnership”.

Linking the war led by Russia in Ukraine and that of Hamas against Israel, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen thus estimated in a speech on Thursday that “these two crises, as different as they are, call on Europe and America to take a stand and take a stand together” in order to “protect our democracies.”

Europeans and Americans are seeking in particular to avoid the opening of a second front with Lebanese Hezbollah and, beyond that, a regional escalation with unpredictable ramifications.

“It is particularly important that we redouble our efforts on both sides of the Atlantic to ensure that this conflict does not extend beyond its borders,” an undercover European official assured journalists before the summit. of anonymity.

According to him, the summit will be an opportunity “to send clear and unified messages to all parties to the conflict”: namely support for Israel and the sending of humanitarian aid to Palestinians stuck in Gaza.

  • To reassure –

But they need to lead several fronts and one of the challenges of the summit will also be to show continued strong support for Ukraine, at a time of some uncertainty in Washington due to the crisis which is paralyzing the American Congress.

The American president, having just returned from a dangerous visit to Israel on Wednesday, spoke to the Americans on Thursday evening to try to unite them behind the defense of Israel and Ukraine, and to wrest the political consensus which he needed to fund these two causes.

The stakes are high, because aid is being held hostage to this paralysis and the United States is heading straight towards a new budgetary crisis, the “shutdown” on November 17, due to a divided and undermined Congress. by quarrels within the Republican opposition which is looking for a new “speaker”.

Mr. Biden should once again seek to reassure Europeans in this regard.

Speaking to the press on Thursday, European Council President Charles Michel, however, said he was “extremely confident” that the American president would do everything possible to confirm the aid.

Also on the agenda is the sensitive issue of further involving third countries, through which Russia is trying to circumvent international sanctions.

“We are trying to close all the doors” allowing these sanctions to be bypassed, according to Charles Michel.

The previous meeting between European and American leaders took place in Brussels in June 2021.

  • The steel dispute –

But geopolitics will not be the only issue at the summit when, according to the IMF, the main world economies are showing signs of weakness.

Furthermore, the European Union and the United States must also resolve trade disputes, including that concerning European imports of steel, targets of customs duties imposed in 2018 by the Trump presidency.

Suspended in 2021, these could be reactivated if no agreement is reached by the end of October.

The EU is also hoping for an agreement on essential minerals necessary for the energy transition. This involves removing discriminatory elements present in the major American climate plan (IRA) voted in the summer of 2022.

The European Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, estimated on Tuesday, on the sidelines of a meeting of European finance ministers in Luxembourg, that an agreement between the EU and the United States on steel and aluminum as well as on the supply of essential minerals could be announced at the summit.

“We are not there yet. We still have to overcome differences,” he added, however.

Finally, faced with the climate emergency, the EU intends to put pressure on Washington, encouraging the United States to do more.

“We will also insist that one of the main agendas will be to push the United States to act on climate,” said the European official.

The Twenty-Seven agreed that the EU should defend at the next COP28 in early December in Dubai, the elimination of fossil fuels burned without CO2 capture, with a peak in their global consumption from “this decade”.

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