Brussels upbeat about Biden's Europe trip

·1-min read

US President Joe Biden's trip to Europe this week will signal that multilateralism has survived the Trump years, and set the stage for trans-Atlantic co-operation on challenges from China and Russia to climate change, the chairman of EU summits says.

"America is back," European Council President Charles Michel said, using the motto Biden has adopted after former president Donald Trump pulled Washington out of several multilateral institutions and at one point threatened to walk out of NATO.

"It means that we have again a very strong partner to promote the multilateral approach ... a big difference with the Trump administration," Michel told a group of reporters in Brussels late on Monday.

Michel and the chief of the European Union's executive, Ursula von der Leyen, will meet Biden on June 15. That will follow a summit of G7 rich democracies in Britain and a meeting of NATO nation leaders in Brussels on June 14.

Michel said the idea that "multilateralism is back" was not only a slogan but also a recognition that a global approach was needed to resolve issues, whether they be supply chains for COVID-19 vaccines or fairer corporate taxes in the digital age.

He said the three-day G7 meeting in Cornwall, England, could be an "important turning point" that showed serious political commitment behind governments' pledges to "build back better" following the economic devastation of the coronavirus pandemic.

It would also be an opportunity to address pressure felt by liberal democracies, said Michel, who expects a discussion at the G7 on the need for the West to take a more proactive approach to defending its values in the face of China's rise and Russian assertiveness.

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