EU-US Relations: A Solid Alliance in a Shifting Global Landscape?

von Benedikt Zanzinger
Politics on Point - A Podcast by AIES Wien and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Wien


The war in Ukraine showed the EU’s ability to act as a key global player through its resilience, its ability to react quickly from the very start of the war, with military support, aid to refugees, and the ability to reduce its energy dependence on Russia. Due to the disruption of supply chains that already indicated serious dependence during the pandemic, the sometimes alternativeless dependency on energy supplies, and the need for a coherent approach in the face of security challenges, the EU should try to achieve strategic autonomy and create an independent geopolitical policy in order to become a “third power” in the changing world order, instead of getting lost between the rivalry between China and the US. The growing U.S.-China tensions will have a profound effect on the future of the multilateral system, current trends are pointing toward a further increase in geopolitical competition, economic protectionism and fragmentation. The goal of this podcast series is to assess the European Union's autonomy as an independent actor, with regard to its relations with the US, China, ASEAN, and the African Union. The changing nature of the multilateral system and the growing tensions between global actors no longer allows a postponement of the assessment from the perspective of liberal democracies, hence the European Union and its member states must not lose sight of systemic competition.


The United States remains the EU's closest and most important partner, given the deep economic and political ties. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has highlighted the importance of NATO and led to much closer co-operation in the areas of defence and sanctions policies. Shared geopolitical concerns (regarding for instance Russia and China) will provide an incentive for the EU and the US to work together. The EU needs the US to support Ukraine. For the US, supporting a tougher stance towards China is of relevance. It is therefore likely that EU-US ties will strengthen in 2023, though a change in the White House and the waning acceptance of supporting a distant war could reshuffle the cards and assuming a willingness from both sides to handle trade issues. However, the risk of worsening trade disputes remains which could lead to spillover effects on other policy areas.


In this episode, Max Bergmann, the director of the Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program and the Stuart Center in Euro-Atlantic and Northern European Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), discusses the current state of transatlantic relations against the background of dramatic changes in the international system – above all the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This episode is the second in a 4-part special series on the EU as a global actor. Other episodes of this series focus on the EU's relations with China, ASEAN, as well as the African Union.


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Benedikt Zanzinger

Portrait Benedikt Zanzinger

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