U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to replace London with Amsterdam after an expert said Netherlands role in EU affairs “has never been more important” with Anthony Gardner, former US Ambassador to the European Uniuon saying transatlantic priorities from the US will fall on the Netherlands.
He, however, explained that the UK used to be America’s “megaphone” to the EU before its exit from the union. Mr Gardner told the Centre for European Reform, “The role of the Netherlands has never been more important especially now the UK has left the EU.
“I say more important than ever before to promote key transatlantic priorities from climate change to trade, digital economy, reforming the WTO, promoting humans rights, dealing with China.
“In the old days when the UK was a member, our life was easy in the United States because the UK was our megaphone to some extent within the EU. Now they’ve left and the Netherlands will play an absolutely critical role.”
It comes as the EU said it had positive, early contact with the Biden administration on trade, but will need to wait for a new US trade representative to be in place for real talks to begin, the EU trade chief said on Monday.
Valdis Dombrovskis, executive vice president of the European Commission, told Reuters that expectations for more positive engagement with the new US administration were “very high.”
Speaking about the talks, Dombrovskis said they were “preliminary” after a discussion with Brian Deese, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council, last week to outline the EU’s position.
Real talks would be possible when Katherine Tai, who has been nominated to be the next U.S. trade representative resumes. “That can be happening, as I understand, rather soon and that’s when we can engage in earnest,” Dombrovskis said.
US experts are expecting her to be sworn in by the end of February.
The EU executive presented a 12-page wish list in December for a new transatlantic partnership, outlining potential to cooperate in health, economic recovery, environmental policy and trade.
The bloc wants to cooperate on climate change and digital aspects of trade, but also to clear “trade irritants” – US tariffs on EU steel and aluminium and mutual tariffs related to a dispute over aircraft subsidies.
Dombrovskis said the EU offer was for both sides to withdraw these tariffs, or at least suspend them for half a year. In the case of metals tariffs, both sides should instead focus on overcapacity, particularly in China, and on rules governing civil aviation given emerging competitors.
Dombrovskis also welcomed a US reversal of its previous opposition to Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala becoming the next director-general of the WTO, saying, “This is a first necessary step.”
Meanwhile, The EU trade chief said restoring the WTO’s Appellate Body, after the Trump administration paralysed it by blocking new appointments, was also “relatively easy.”