Biden Is Embracing Europe, but Then What? NATO and the E.U. Have Concerns.


Still, Mr. Biden’s visits to NATO on June 14 and then the European Union for brief summits, following his attendance at the Group of 7 in Britain, will be more than symbolic. The meetings are synchronized so that he can arrive in Geneva on June 16 with allied consultation and support for his first meeting as president with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

“The hopeful, optimistic view is that Biden is kicking off a new relationship, showing faith in Brussels and NATO, saying the right words and kicking off the key strategic process” of renovating the alliance for the next decade, said Jana Puglierin, Berlin director of the European Council on Foreign Relations. “But Biden also wants to see bang for the buck, and we need to show tangible results. This is not unconditional love, but friends with benefits.”

François Heisbourg, a French defense analyst, sees only positives from the Biden trip.

“The U.S. is back, Biden’s back, there’s nothing cynical here,” said Mr. Heisbourg, a special adviser to the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris. “Biden has some strong views, and he is determined to implement them. International affairs are not his priority, but his basic positioning is, ‘Let’s be friends again, to reestablish comity and civility with allies.’”

But eventually, Mr. Heisbourg said, “policy reviews have to become policy.”

Ivo H. Daalder, who was U.S. ambassador to NATO under President Barack Obama, sees the whole trip as “part of ‘We’re back,’ and important to show that alliances and partners matter, that we want to work with other countries and be nice to our friends. Even the G-7 will be like that.”

But he and others note that Mr. Biden has not yet named ambassadors to either NATO or the European Union — or to most European countries, for that matter — let alone had them confirmed. For now, officials insist, that absence is not vital, and many of the most likely candidates are well-known.



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