Joe Biden's huge snub to Brussels exposed as US-EU tensions reach new heights

Former US President Donald Trump was deeply unpopular among European Union leaders. Among those who disapproved were German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who never attempted to hide her dislike of the ex-President. Back in 2016, Mrs Merkel greeted Mr Trump’s victory with an extraordinary warning: that she would work with the US President on the condition that he respect democratic values.

Things did not improve from there.

The transatlantic relationship deteriorated significantly after Mr Trump’s White House arrival in 2017, with disagreements over international trade, defence and technology.

European officials have also struggled with his direct style and use of Twitter.

Now Democrat Mr Biden has moved into the Oval Office, many are expecting things to go back to how they were before the American firebrand burst onto the scene.

However, it appears Brussels has already been let down.

Italian MEP Marco Zanni wrote on Twitter: “So in the EU, those who thought the music would change with Biden are being disappointed?

“The duties imposed by Trump on EU products are still standing?

“And oh, did you hear Biden even signed a ‘Buy American Act?’

“You don’t say…”

The Obama administration sought to sign a trade deal with Brussels known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which would have made it easier for American products to be sold in Europe and vice versa.

However, both sides failed to strike an agreement and further talks died after Mr Trump became President.

Some in Europe believed Mr Biden, who was Mr Obama’s Vice President during the TTIP negotiations, would rekindle the push for free trade across the Atlantic.

However, last Monday, Mr Biden signed an executive order to tighten “Buy American” requirements in federal government procurement – a first step to fulfilling his campaign promise to bolster the country’s manufacturing sector.

The Biden administration aims to make it harder for government agencies to purchase foreign products, raise the percentage of local content and use metrics such as job creation in the definition of US-made.

And despite pressure from the EU to repeal the Jones Act to allow greater competition in the shipping sector, administration officials announced Mr Biden will also soon reiterate his support for the law, which requires goods shipped within the US to be transported on American vessels.

They say this could help “invest in building offshore renewable energy and put Americans to work doing it”.

Erik Brattberg, the Europe programme director at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC, told Vox: “Europeans are a bit concerned that protectionist policies may continue under Biden.”

Economic tensions between the US and EU are already quite high.

The Trump administration placed billions in tariffs on European goods, and both the US and EU recently concluded a rancorous trade dispute over subsidies to their major aviation companies.

In an exclusive interview with, Government trade adviser Shanker Singham said on the US-EU relationship going forward: “The Democrats are going to be more hostile to some of the European policies going forward.

“The Trump administration was not a big fan of big tech but the Democrats on the West Coast are, and digital services taxes in Europe are going to be a massive impediment and barrier.

“Standard issues are also going to be a massive impediment in a deal between the US and the EU.”

Finally, on agriculture, Mr Singham noted, the Democrats are stronger on market access for US producers and US farmers, whereas European agricultural protectionism will continue.

He said: “Actually, it is getting worse… The sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules in Europe are getting worse.

“The chances of getting a US-EU deal are zero… and I think the EU knows that.”