Just as the year before, 2021 is another year with many changes. The European Commission has published new documents on the New Transatlantic Agenda. We are entering a new era with the US re-joining the Paris Agreement and President Joe Biden supporting the World Health Organization (WHO). With the enrollment of European green energy projects and the COVID-19 vaccines, together with global cooperation, the future seems brighter. However, there is still a lot to do before the European Union and the United States can sit back and relax.
Challenge 1: COVID-19 pandemic
Perhaps the biggest challenge for both the US and the Netherlands is the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily the USA has re-joined the WHO. At the same time, the WHO is making sure vaccines are distributed to the developed world. This distribution is in everyone’s interest because the economy cannot go back to normal until the pandemic is completely vanquished and the world economy is restored.
Challenge 2: Digitalization
Forced by the pandemic, the speed of digitalization has significantly increased. Hopefully, the next time emergencies happen, the world is better prepared and able to act more efficiently with strategic autonomy. Protectionism is not the answer; we need to invest in our strengths and those of other countries. The EU aspires to be the world leader in energy, defense, key technologies and raw materials. The US is an exciting partner for the EU, and vice versa.
Challenge 3: Free Trade Agreements
“America First” became “Build Back Better.” The US economy has to be sufficiently competitive, and there are still actions needed to combat trade issues, but establishing FTAs can support this. Former-president Donald Trump blocked the application for new WHO memberships, which created uncertainty for businesses. If there is one thing businesses do not enjoy, it is uncertainty. President Biden has lifted the application block, which helps rebuild the partnership between the US and the WHO.
Challenge 4: US-China Trade War
China continues to both assist and challenge the world. The US and China have opposite technology and societal systems. In the past years, trade wars occurred between the two nations, affecting the EU. It seems the EU has to choose one of the two eventually, which adds fuel to the fire. The US and the EU have familiar societal systems and dialogue on technology. However, China is the EU’s leading supplier of goods. What will happen in the future is something only time can tell.
Challenge 5: Climate change
Organizations need to align a common strategy to make the best out of online platforms and big tech. With a solid plan, the approach to critical technologist protection, global change program implementation, and continuing the EU-US technology trade council goes sufficiently smoother. A big topic right now is climate change, with the US immediately re-joining the Paris Agreement at the start of President Biden’s inauguration. To reach the 2030 and 2050 climate goals, an ETS system (Emissions Trading System) is necessary. In 2005 the EU established the first large greenhouse to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The EU ETS is the first global greenhouse gas emission trading-scheme and still the largest. If two immense economic powers (hint: the US and the EU) were to share the same system, we can effectively combat global warming, bringing hope to future generations. Another future investment is hydrogen: the EU is busy setting up hydrogen projects. We have not reached our climate goals. However, with the US back in the Paris Agreement, the future seems promising.
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