FRG and Biden's Transatlantic Strategy: Unsolved Problems and New Challenges

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-9-56-68
A. Kokeev (, 
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation

Received 21.06.2021.

Abstract. This article addresses the most significant changes in German-American relations since the election of J. Biden; unveils the main factors influencing Berlin’s transatlantic policy in relations with Russia and China; analyzes approaches to the climate agenda and problems associated with the fulfillment of Germany’s allied obligations in NATO; reveals new trends in Germany’s approach to the issue of strategic autonomy of the EU; investigates the discrepancies on security issues between the main German parties ahead of the parliamentary elections in September 2021. The first steps of the Biden administration to normalize the transatlantic ties undermined by Trump (the return of the United States to participation in international negotiations and organizations) were seen in Berlin as evidence of significant changes in Washington’s positions on international problems of vital importance to Germany. At the same time, Berlin has no illusion that with the arrival of Biden, transatlantic relations will once again be the same as they were before Trump’s presidency. The most important stumbling block in the beginning process of resetting the transatlantic relations was the set of problems associated with the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline construction. It is clear that Biden is just as harshly rejecting this project as his predecessor did, and will continue to obstruct its commissioning. After the elections to the Bundestag in September 2021, the internal political situation in Germany may change significantly. In any case, the Nord Stream 2 issue will remain a subject of disputes and serious disagreements between Germany, the USA, the EU and Russia for a long time. In Germany it is assumed that in the coming decades, the transatlantic agenda will be largely determined by the growing influence and policy of China, and the relationship between the United States and the EU with China will affect not only the economic interests of the FRG, but also the sphere of its security. The climate agenda today remains one of the few areas where it is possible not only to revive the transatlantic interaction, but also to intensify cooperation between the United States, the EU, China and Russia with an eye to interaction in solving other problems, not necessarily related to the climate agenda. The most important U.S. demand for Germany remains an increase in its material and financial contribution to NATO. Berlin’s readiness to meet these requirements has increased significantly. However, the thesis that the Europeans are faced with a choice – a course towards strategic autonomy or restoration of close ties with Washington and reliance on the United States and NATO – seems simplified. Representatives of all German parties are unanimous in the opinion that the renewal of the transatlantic partnership, which has begun under Biden, will be accompanied by a reduction in American commitments in Europe. Therefore, the EU will have to invest more in its own security and (in the longer term) strategic autonomy. 

Keywords: Germany, USA, EU, China, Russia, transatlantic relations, climate agenda, security policy, strategic autonomy, Bundeswehr, defense spending


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For citation:
Kokeev A. FRG and Biden's Transatlantic Strategy: Unsolved Problems and New Challenges. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2021, vol. 65, no. 9, pp. 56-68.

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