The Consequences of a Trump or Biden Win for Germany

Transatlantic Policy Implications of the 2020 U.S. Election

Few countries have a greater interest in the U.S. presidential election than Germany. Its relationship with the United States is of such existential importance that the outcome is likely to have a bigger impact on the future direction of German foreign policy than the country’s own elections in 2021. It is the moment when Berlin will have to make a strategic decision.

Trump has criticized Germany repeatedly and on an array of issues. Yet, his most persistent criticism has come in areas that are not new points of contention: Germany’s insufficient defense budget, its vast trade surpluses, and its dealings with China.

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These issues are all long-standing (security spending and trade imbalances) or represent widely held and bipartisan views in Washington (the future relationship with China). On all of them, there are good reasons for German policymakers to be at least receptive to the U.S. position.

Nobody should expect any quick fixes in the U.S.-German relationship during a Biden presidency. Yet it would offer a window of opportunity to put the relationship on an adjusted— and maybe more mature—footing.

U.S. Foreign Policy after the 2020 Elections

The last four years have seen transatlantic relations shaken by major turbulences as the administration of President Donald Trump implemented a diplomatic, security, and economic policy agenda that challenged fundamentals Europe had taken for granted up to then. If 2016’s presidential election only presaged the potential for such disruption, this year’s contest is being followed with particular intensity in Europe as it is clear that which one of Trump or Joe Biden is elected will clearly have major implications for the transatlantic relationship in all dimensions. The German Marshall Fund’s experts will provide their perspective on these issues ahead of and after the vote on November 3.

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