New Transatlantic Pact? – Germany, France Want Common EU-US Sanctions and Green Finance Policy

Written by | Sunday, March 14th, 2021

Europe and Germany need a reset with the United States, said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Tuesday (9 March), in his first major speech on transatlantic relations since new US President Joe Biden took office. While he did not address the main bone of contention between Washington and Berlin – the North Stream 2 – Maas told Americans that “Germany is at your side”, in reference to Biden’s “America is back” slogan at the Munich Security Conference three weeks ago. Speaking at an online event organized by the Washington-based Brookings think tank, the German FM said a reset should include a common struggle for democracy and both the US and Germany should work to tackle anti-democratic threats. Improved relations between the EU and US in the post-Trump era would enable both powers to impose joint sanctions on China and Russia over human rights and other issues, Maas said.
Maas also expressed the hope that the partners on both sides of the Atlantic would work on common positions “on targeted sanctions, something that was not possible over the last four years.” Germany is clearly interested to participate in the decision-making of common restrictive measures, to avoid being itself negatively affected by US sanctions, as in the case of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which aims to bring more Russian gas under the Baltic Sea, circumventing Ukraine. However, Maas said nothing with respect to Nord Stream 2, which Washington believes will make Germany overly reliant on Russian energy. Germany has imposed sanctions on Russia with its EU partners over Moscow’s arming of separatist forces in Ukraine and attacks on opponents of President Vladimir Putin, but has resisted the push of other EU countries to stop the construction of the Nord Stream 2. He also supported Biden’s idea of ??inviting the world’s democracies to a summit very soon to find international measures against misinformation and conspiracy theories. The COVID-19 pandemic had underlined why countries should work together, the German FM said, adding that closing ranks will prevent losing ground “to those who claim that authoritarian regimes can better deal with a crisis like this.”
Meanwhile, also France has urged Europe and the US to agree on common rules to determine how ‘green’ a financial investment is. Following his talks with US President Joe Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry, France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Wednesday (9 March) that in addition to a common taxonomy for green investments, it was important to launch discussions with Washington on carbon border tax adjustments. “It would be a shame if at the end of the day we had two sets of rules in Europe and the United States,” said Le Maire, adding that “that would be a source of considerable confusion between our two continents.” Asked to respond to the separate suggestion of a carbon border adjustment tax, Kerry said Washington was aware that a number of countries were investigating such a tool. “There are a number of different proposals to assign a price on carbon and the methane and the greenhouse gases creating this damage. Whether or not we think that’s the right tool or not we have not yet been able to sit down and evaluate that.”

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