Report: EU And US Should Restore Cooperation In Eastern And Southeastern Europe

A recent Carnegie Europe report argues that the EU and US should work to restore cooperation after years of distance under the Trump Administration. By doing so, they may better position themselves to promote democracy and rebuild influence in the face of disruptive actors such as Russia, China, and Turkey.
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A report published by Carnegie Europe on January 26 contends that the EU and the US must find ways to repair their relationship under President Joe Biden and thereby seek common ground from which to address the global shifts and challenges of the coming decades.

It also suggests that the EU and US should restore common engagement in the region by increasing their support of fragile countries dealing with challenges to their statehoods.

Under the Trump presidency and the resulting turbulence in EU-US relations, Western actors faced widespread criticism for neglecting Eastern and Southeastern European countries in which illiberal democracies, authoritarian regimes, and divergence from European values proliferated and strengthened in line with threats of ethnic and religious conflict.

“After a challenging four-year interlude, the election of Joe Biden as U.S. president offers the Europeans and Americans an opportunity to restore their cooperation in the region,” the report states, adding:

“Specifically, Brussels and Washington can step up their efforts by providing a firmer anchorage to countries that are still fragile and undergoing change, especially on supporting democratic reform and anticorruption, and by addressing more effectively the unsolved statehood issues and ongoing conflicts that still pervade the whole region,”

The report also criticized Trump administration policies that undermined and often conflicted with EU policies in Eastern and Southeastern Europe:

“In some cases, the United States was even a disruptor itself: in Ukraine, Trump attempted to coerce the government into undermining Biden’s credibility as a U.S. presidential candidate, while in Serbia and Kosovo, the United States sought alternative arrangements to the European Union (EU)–sponsored dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina to solve the bilateral relationship between the two countries.”

In the absence of strong EU-US partnership over the past four years, “disruptive countries” such as Russia, Turkey, and China have gained influence in the region.

In this sense, the report suggests that the chief regional challenge for European capitals and Washington is to respond to rapidly evolving crises from the Caucasus to Ukraine to the Western Balkans with the same determination and speed as Russia.