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Biden Continues Europe Reset With U.S.-EU Summit

The two sides are set to bury the hatchet on a long-running trade dispute and announce a new partnership on Russia policy.

By , the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a press conference after the NATO summit in Brussels on June 14. OLIVIER HOSLET/POOL/AFP

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: U.S. President Joe Biden meets with EU leaders in Brussels, ASEAN defense ministers meet to discuss South China Sea tensions, and a far-right march in Jerusalem raises fears of renewed violence.

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Biden Meets European Leaders for EU-U.S. Summit

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: U.S. President Joe Biden meets with EU leaders in Brussels, ASEAN defense ministers meet to discuss South China Sea tensions, and a far-right march in Jerusalem raises fears of renewed violence.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.

Biden Meets European Leaders for EU-U.S. Summit

U.S. President Joe Biden holds the latest meeting of his European travels today when he joins with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel for the first EU-U.S. leaders summit since 2017.

Following up from the weekend’s G-7 gathering and yesterday’s NATO summit, today’s meeting is likely to be used as a platform to showcase Biden’s goal of increasing U.S. support for multilateralism as well as another opportunity for European leaders to build relationships with the new U.S. president.

The two powers are set to bury the hatchet on a long-running trade dispute over their respective aerospace champions, Boeing and Airbus, with a deal likely to be announced today that will set limits on the levels of state subsidies the companies can receive.

The two sides are also to announce the beginning of a “high-level policy dialogue” on Russia, helping mend a sore point in relations exacerbated by the near completion of Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany that U.S. officials worry will lead to greater dependency on Moscow. Europe’s leaders will also hope for a chance to preview Biden’s strategy before a head-to-head with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

The China question. As with other summits this week, China is likely to place high on the agenda. Biden’s team will be pleased that an EU-China investment agreement is now on thin ice after China targeted EU lawmakers with retaliatory sanctions after the European Union levied sanctions over human rights abuses in Xinjiang. The two powers could irk China further today, with a joint call to better investigate the origins of COVID-19, an avenue China considers an attempt at scapegoating.

The vaccine divide. Although their vaccination programs have slowly led to easing restrictions in the United States and European Union, the two powers disagree on how to vaccinate the rest of the world. The U.S. decision to back a vaccine patent waiver proposal at the World Trade Organization reportedly surprised European leaders, leading them to put forward a hastily designed counterproposal. The EU decision is not unanimous across its institutions: Its democratically elected parliament voted to back the waiver last week.

What We’re Following Today

Israel tensions. Far-right Israeli groups will march through Jerusalem’s Old City today, in a move condemned as a “provocation” by Palestinian organizations. Hamas has also threatened to renew hostilities if the march proceeds as planned. Although an official route has not been released, marchers will not be allowed into the Old City’s Muslim quarter—home to a predominantly Palestinian population—but will be permitted to congregate outside Damascus Gate. Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called on Palestinians to counter the march while the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem has barred staff and their families from entering the Old City today.

ASEAN defense ministers meet. Defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meet virtually today to discuss regional security and tensions. Today’s talks are expected to include a planned code of conduct for managing disputes in the South China Sea, following a decision by ASEAN foreign ministers to resume discussions with China over the code. Representatives from China, India, Japan, and the United States will join an expanded meeting on Wednesday.

Nuclear worries in China. French energy firm Électricité de France (EDF) is investigating an issue at a nuclear plant it operates in China following reports that U.S. officials were monitoring a possible radiation leak. EDF reportedly warned of an “imminent radiological threat” from the plant, according to CNN, over the buildup of inert gases krypton and xenon at a plant reactor. The International Atomic Energy Agency said, at present, there was “no indication that a radiological incident occurred.” Both the EDF and the state-run China General Nuclear Power Group, which together operate the power plant as a joint venture, said the station was running within normal safety parameters.

Keep an Eye On

Vaccinating the world. Mark Lowcock, U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, excoriated G-7 nations for a lack of ambition in their vaccine plan to provide 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to poorer countries through 2022. Lowcock criticized the group for failing “to show the necessary urgency” while praising a $50 billion plan put forward by the International Monetary Fund to vaccinate at least 40 percent of all countries by the end of 2021 (moving up to 60 percent in the first half of 2022) as “the deal of the century.”

“What the world needed from the G-7 was a plan to vaccinate the world. And what we got was a plan to vaccinate about 10 percent of the population of low- and middle-income countries, maybe by a year from now or the second half of next year,” Lowcock said. 

Aung San Suu Kyi’s trials. The trial of Myanmar’s ousted democratic leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, began on Monday in the first of a string of cases brought by the country’s military junta after its Feb. 1 coup. Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in military detention since the coup began while protesters continue to demand her release, faces charges ranging from illegally possessing walkie-talkies and breaking coronavirus regulations to sedition and bribery. Her lawyer said she appeared unwell in court on Monday. “This trial is clearly the opening salvo in an overall strategy to neuter Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy party as a force that can challenge military rule in the future,” Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, told the Associated Press.

Odds and Ends

Nine police officers in Pakistan have been suspended after they retaliated against a crew of fast food workers who refused to give them free burgers. After workers at the Lahore-based Johnny & Jugnu chain rebuffed a demand for free burgers on June 9, police returned two days later and arrested the restaurant manager. “Then they emptied out our entire branch, taking all of our kitchen crew, including the rest of the managers,” according to a company Facebook post, adding the outlet was left with “fryers still running, customers waiting for their orders.” Inam Ghani, the senior police official who announced the suspension, promised consequences for the offending officers. “All of them will be punished,” he said.

Colm Quinn is the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @colmfquinn

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