In all friendship – Scholz and Biden seal alliance in difficult times

In all friendship – Scholz and Biden seal alliance in difficult times

Washington From US President Joe Biden is known that he considers personal exchange to be indispensable, and also Chancellor Olaf Scholz is considered a friend of the private conversation. Both men made it clear on Friday that their meeting at the White House was not a mandatory visit, but a symbol of their close partnership.

“I want to thank you, Olaf, for your strong and consistent leadership. I’m serious. It made a world of difference,” Biden said of Germany’s role in defending the Ukraine. And Scholz also gave a lot of praise. “The transatlantic relationship, particularly the relationship between the USA and Germany are better than they have been for many years,” he said. You have Biden to thank for that.

The two men’s bond grew strong in a global crisis, and in many ways the Ukraine war is the defining event of their tenures. Because when Scholz was sworn in, the world was different. A few months later, in February 2022, marched Russia into Ukraine.

The war also has an immense influence on Biden, the experienced transatlantic. He rebuilt the United States as the military leader of the West after that reputation had suffered badly under his predecessor, Donald Trump.

A high-ranking government official said in the run-up to the trip that Biden spoke to “hardly any politicians” more often than he did to Scholz last year. The word “trust” comes up very often in conversations on both sides of the Atlantic.

But the mutual reinforcement of the transatlantic alliance comes at a critical stage in the war of aggression. More than a year after the invasion, there is no end in sight. Both leaders are therefore trying to send signals of unity.

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It is “very important that we get the message across” that support for Ukraine will continue “as long as necessary”. That’s what Scholz said to Biden in English when he received him in the Oval Office of the White House. “As long as necessary”, the US President had also promised, when he visited Kiev and Warsaw last week.

At the same time as Scholz’s visit, the United States announced a new aid package for Ukraine – the Biden government has approved a total of more than $100 billion for the Ukraine war. With 15 billion US dollars, Germany is the largest donor to Ukraine within the EU. The trip follows the start of joint tank deliveries to Ukraine.

The US is considering joint sanctions against China

However, it is unclear how long Germany can rely on the lion’s share from the USA – the cash flow from Washington could already be in danger in the summer. Because every new aid package has to go through the US Congress, which has been divided since the midterm elections in November. The Democrats hold the majority in the Senate, but they dominate the House of Representatives republican by a few seats, some of which are threatening to be blocked.

New instability threatens because of the opaque cooperation between Beijing and Moscow: The US government warns of potential arms deliveries from China to Russia for the Ukraine war — and now appears to be increasing pressure on allies to join potential sanctions against China. According to US media reports, the US is trying to win international support for sanctions against China, including the EU.

The federal government hopes to be able to avoid this step by preventing China from militarily cooperating with Russia. Because such sanctions with European participation would be extremely delicate in view of the strong economic ties between Germany and China.

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John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council in the White House, confirmed the US government’s considerations on Friday. “We have always made it clear to Beijing that there will be consequences in the event of arms deliveries. Sanctions are one possibility. These tools are available not only to us, but also to our allies and partners.”

So far, the US has not provided any evidence of arms cooperation between Beijing and Moscow. At a meeting between Biden and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen the topic will certainly play a role. The White House said Biden will continue “our work together to address challenges with the People’s Republic of China.” Leyen discuss.

Agreement on the battery dispute is emerging

The dispute over the American subsidy program for green technologies, the Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA for short, falls into this complicated situation.

With the multi-billion dollar IRA, the US wants to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in the promotion of climate-friendly technologies, the subsidies are linked to a series of protectionist rules. One of them concerns the origin of the raw materials used in the batteries. This excludes European manufacturers from the subsidies.

In Europe, there is great concern that subsidies will put industry at a competitive disadvantage. That could stand in the way of the plan to set up its own battery factories. Recent tensions between the US and China increase the pressure on the US government to align its supply chains with the “Made in American” principle – and stand in the way of broad concessions to the Europeans.

After all, there are signs of concessions on the part of the Americans in the particularly controversial battery production. The US government presented a concept for a transatlantic raw materials partnership shortly before the Scholz visit. In this way, European battery manufacturers hope to be able to benefit from US subsidies after all.

On Thursday, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met with the Vice President of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, advised virtually. Dombrovskis was then optimistic that the US would “guarantee the EU privileged status in commodities,” he tweeted. On Friday, an EU official in Washington said the agreement on the raw materials partnership could be in place as early as next week – in time for von der Leyen’s visit.

At the same time, however, the US government made new expectations of the Europeans, who were supposed to develop future technologies with their own subsidies. “We hope that other countries will follow the US example and make their own laws,” said the senior government official.

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