LONDON – When U.S. President Joe Biden flies to Europe this week, he will find his hosts welcoming but wary. His predecessor Donald Trump may be gone, but he leaves a long shadow.
Biden’s first foreign trip as president starts Wednesday and includes a gathering of the Group of Seven wealthy nations by the seaside in southwest England, a NATO summit, a meeting with European Union chiefs, and then a tete-a-tete in Geneva with his Russian counterpart and adversary, Vladimir Putin.
For most of America’s allies, Biden is a relief. Trump often sowed chaos, accusing the NATO military alliance of leeching off the United States, insulting the European Union and storming out of a G-7 summit in Canada in 2018. In contrast, Biden has stressed his support for international diplomacy and emphasized “America’s renewed commitment to our allies and partners” in a recent Washington Post article.
“I think we can expect to see lots of rhetoric and lots of good-vibe messages in this first visit of Biden to Europe,” said Renata Dwan, deputy director of international affairs think tank Chatham House.
But she added that five months into Biden’s term, “it’s time to be more than ‘not Donald Trump.’”
Biden has already mended some fences with America’s allies. The U.S. has rejoined the Paris climate accord that Trump renounced, ended a minor trade war with the EU over aviation rivalry and is backing attempts to revive a deal meant to limit Iran's nuclear ambitions that Trump abandoned.
“America is back. And we are happy you are back,” European Council President Charles Michel told Biden in March, when the president joined a video summit of EU leaders.
Yet it’s not all smooth sailing, especially for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is hosting the first G-7 summit in two years this weekend at the Carbis Bay resort in Cornwall.