Europeans ask Joe Biden for a helping hand on vaccines. The American president opens and calls allies together to build an anti-China front. Dialogue has resumed between the two sides of the Atlantic. But the US and the EU, at least at this stage, seem to have different priorities and expectations. Last night Biden presented himself at the summit of the European Council, immediately after announcing in his first press conference that «intends to reapply in the presidential elections of 2024», Always in ticket with Kamala Harris. A surprise, given that in the election campaign “Joe” presented himself as “a ferryman”. Everyone, perhaps starting with Harris, understood that he would retire after the first term. It will not be so. Biden is in charge and wants us to stay a long time.
The news could change the perspective in international relations: not only emergencies can be discussed with the American president, but also structural changes. In the European Council Biden said that “the US and the EU must be united in the defense of shared values to face authoritarian regimes, on issues such as human rights and cyber security”. The American leader has China above all in mind. To the Europeans he addressed the same appeal addressed last March 12 to Japan, India and Australia: the democracies to force China to answer for all violations of the law, whether in Hong Kong or Taiwan. At the same time, Biden wants to re-establish an “organic” economic and commercial relationship with the European Union, even before the United Kingdom. Therefore, a new agreement is needed, without repeating the mistakes of the Ttip, the «Transatlantic Trade and Investment partnership» proposed by Barack Obama and crushed by popular protests in Europe. For the EU, however, it is more urgent to start cooperation on vaccines. So far, the Biden administration has followed the plan drawn up in January to the letter: first we immunize our citizens, then we will donate the “surplus” to others.
Vaccines and vaccinations: US and EU compared
It is also true, however, that several things have changed in recent weeks. First of all the vaccination campaign in the United States is accelerating. So much so that yesterday Biden himself raised the bar: 200 million immunized Americans (and no more a hundred) by April 30th. This means that the moment of “surplus” may also come sooner than expected. In these hours, diplomacies are thinking about various possibilities. At least 30 million doses are stored in the American companies connected to AstraZeneca, pending the green light of the FDA. Last week Biden lent 2.5 million vials to Mexico and 1.5 million to Canada. And now he has promised he could send some of the surplus doses to the EU.
In parallel the US president could push US multinationals to multiply agreements for shared production with European companies, smoothing out the problems related to patents. The federal government can leverage Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and other companies, as it has funded the vaccine trials and, in Pfizer’s case, has secured large deals in the dark. On the other hand, China and Russia are using the anti-Covid serum to woo or at least sow doubts among Western countries. In Washington, especially in Congress, the conviction is growing that these maneuvers can no longer be snubbed.
March 26, 2021 (change March 26, 2021 | 01:35)