Germans pin their hopes on Joe Biden

Survey: Overwhelming majority envisages better relations with the USA thanks to new president

The new US President Joe Biden.
The new US President Joe Biden. dpa

According to a survey, the overwhelming majority of Germans expect bilateral relations to improve under the new US President Joe Biden. 84 percent were optimistic in their response to this question, as the Pew research institute reported in Washington on Tuesday. Only 13 percent expressed a pessimistic opinion. Hopes are similarly high in France (84 percent versus 14 percent), but somewhat lower in Great Britain (72 percent versus 23 percent). 73 percent of Americans also believe that relations with European countries will improve under the Biden administration.

Federal Foreign Office sees Biden as presenting a “huge opportunity”

Since his election victory, Biden has summarised his foreign policy intentions in a single sentence: “America is back.” Trump had frequently antagonised traditional US allies such as Germany and France. By contrast, Biden plans to revive America’s former alliances and relationships, as well as the conventional role of diplomacy. Biden has already promised German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he will strengthen relations with Germany and has offered to work closely together with her. Niels Annen, minister of state at the Federal Foreign Office, has said in several interviews that Joe Biden‘s inauguration will not mean that Europe can sit back and relax. “However, it does present a huge opportunity that we will experience a fundamental shift in cooperation on the big questions facing humankind, such as climate change or indeed in tackling the pandemic”, said the SPD politician. “Instead of regular abuse, reliable cooperation is what counts again now. I am confident that the USA will also listen again in future rather than demanding that we follow its lead”, he added.

Hundreds of thousands of flags commemorate the corona dead in the USA at Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony.
Hundreds of thousands of flags commemorate the corona dead in the USA at Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony.

German industry hopes relations will be reset

German industry is hoping that relations between Europe and the USA will be reset when US President Joe Biden is inaugurated, though it also believes that the European Union needs to make a move. “Joe Biden’s presidency will open doors to the European economy that have been closed of late, but the EU must step across the threshold itself and make proactive approaches to the new administration”, explained Siegfried Russwurm, president of the Federation of German Industries. The USA is the most important export market for German products.

Russwurm believes that climate protection and digitisation pose enormous challenges to businesses on both sides of the Atlantic, though they also present opportunities. “The EU and the USA must jointly agree on ideas for multilateral solutions in this context.” A common agenda is also urgently needed when it comes to dealing with China, he explained, adding that the special tariffs that pose a burden to both sides need to be abolished in trade policy.

Peter Beyer (CDU), the Federal Government’s transatlantic coordinator, called upon the new US government to make concessions. “I expect the new American government to unconditionally remove the punitive tariffs on steel and aluminium”, Beyer told the news portal t-online. Beyer expressed optimism: “Joe Biden’s initial remarks and decisions make me confident that transatlantic relations can be successfully reset.”

Nord Stream 2 pipeline remains controversial 

Other issues will remain even under Joe Biden. One key question still concerns the second underwater gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, which is to link Russia with Germany. Congress recently voted with a large cross-party majority to impose new sanctions in response to the construction of the pipeline.  (with dpa/DW)