By Powerscourt on 05/10/2020



What a Biden presidency would mean for Europe

At a recent webinar hosted by London and Dublin-based communications consultancy Powerscourt, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Richard Neal shared his candid views with a number of very senior business leaders from the UK, Ireland and Europe on the prospects for a Joe Biden presidency and what he believes that administration’s key priorities would be. Issues discussed included US relations with the EU, the recent actions taken by the UK government and their impact on Ireland, US-China relations, and key issues in the run up to the upcoming election.


Speaking about a transatlantic partnership between the United States and the European Union, Neal expressed his support for the idea of developing a free trade agreement. “There are 500 million consumers in the EU, and we think they would be good customers for American products. The United States has 4 per cent of the world’s population, which means that 96 per cent live outside of the United States.” He said he believes that a Biden presidency would allow the TTIP, US-EU trade negotiations which ended without conclusion under the Trump administration, to get “back on track”. He added that Biden views Europe as a very important partner to the United States.

He said that Biden is likely to take the US back into the Paris Agreement, along with a “more meaningful role at the WHO”.


Neal took a firm stance regarding the UK government’s recent threats to break international law. He reflected on the Good Friday Agreement, describing the American dimension to it as “one of the most meaningful foreign policy accomplishments that America has witnessed in decades . . . People on both sides of the divide voted for the agreement. Any compromise of that agreement will not receive any support in the United States.” He further claimed that “the former Vice President Biden has made it very clear that he doesn’t think that you can fracture, or just simply walk away from an international treaty.”


Neal maintained that challenging the anti-competitive practices of China should unite the United States and the European Union. He said that although Robert Lighthizer’s position has been harsh, it has gotten the attention of the Chinese government. He insisted that if Biden were to be successful in his bid to become president, he would be much better at managing US-China relations. He condemned the recent actions of the Chinese government. “The challenge that I think is in front of us here in America is to continue our quest for democratic reforms in China. Free elections, free choices in the marketplace for sure, but a competitor that adheres to the policies and rules of international law.”


In light of the upcoming US election, Neal discussed a number of pressing issues among the electorate. With regard to sustainability, he stated that Biden would like to take the US to a decarbonisation plan that would eliminate carbon emissions by 2040. Addressing the topics of immigration and racism, he said that America should be, and remain, “a beacon for welcoming those who are facing enormous economic, political and religious distress”. He labelled the historic troubles surrounding race in the US as a “great stain on American history”. Furthermore, when asked about Biden’s proposals to increase tax on corporations and the wealthy to pay for social programmes, Neal claimed he supports the return of Clinton/Obama rates of 39.6 per cent. However, he stressed that “we will have to see how the economy is before tax rates are determined.” Referring to the market power of big tech companies, Neal emphasized that Biden has been critical, saying that he would support stricter anti-trust oversight on online privacy issues. “If you pursue liberty, liberty is next to privacy in American democracy.”