Provided courtesy of the German Marshall Fund
Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, Director of the German Marshall Fund of the United States’ Paris office: Good afternoon, and good morning to all of you who are joining us from both sides of the Atlantic. I am Alexandra De Hoop Scheffer, director of the Paris office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. I have been coordinating with my colleagues here at GMF and with the Bertelsmann Foundation for the Transatlantic Trends Survey, which we are officially launching today. As President Biden is embarking today on his first European trip to attend the G7, NATO, EU-US Summits and then meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the findings of this survey conducted in 11 countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the UK and the United States – provide a remarkable overview of the perception of current and future challenges, as well as a comparative analysis of the convergence and divergence of views among allies on some of the most pressing policy issues, which will be discussed during the summits. I’m absolutely delighted to be joined by Ambassador Wendy Sherman, Deputy Secretary of State of the United States, to discuss some of these key findings and also to discuss some of the most critical issues today for the transatlantic partnership and looking also at the future of this relationship. Before getting to the discussion, I wanted to pass the virtual floor to my colleague, Irene Braam, the executive director of the Bertelsmann Foundation to say a few words, Irene.
Irene Braam, Executive Director of the Bertelsmann Foundation: Thank you, Alexandra, and a very pleasant morning and afternoon to one and all from Washington, DC. Thank you for being with us here today. 2021 opens a new chapter for the transatlantic relationship; a new US administration, important upcoming elections in Europe, and a society eager to move towards a post pandemic time, are redefining the transatlantic agenda. Global challenges such as climate change, public health, technological disruption, and geopolitical shifts justify increased calls for closer cooperation between the transatlantic partners. For this cooperation to be successful, it is important to understand what citizens on both sides of the Atlantic expect from their national governments and their political leaders. That insight, the need to anchor this cooperation in the perceptions and desires of the population, is at the core of the Transatlantic Trends project. Transatlantic Trends is not just a project about transatlantic cooperation. It is a truly transatlantic initiative between North American and European partners. And on behalf of the Bertelsmann Foundation, I would like to thank the German Marshall Fund for initiating this project and bringing us all along. I also would like to thank the Business Council of Canada and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung for supporting the 2021 edition. Lastly, but very important, I would like to thank the authors of the report: Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, Brandon Bohrn, Gesine Weber, Tony Silberfeld and Martin Quencez. Ambassador Sherman, Alexandra, the virtual floor is all yours.
Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you very much, Ambassador Sherman. Thank you again for joining us. Thank you for your interest in the Transatlantic Trends. You recently traveled to Europe, Turkey, and the Indo-Pacific. And there’s another intense diplomatic sequence starting this week with the G7. I think we were all interested in hearing your views on the transatlantic relationship, and President Biden’s upcoming trip to Europe. If you could also share some of your views on some of the key findings of the Transatlantic Trends that you thought were particularly relevant or maybe surprising, that would be that would be fantastic. Thank you again very much for joining us, and the floor is yours before engaging the conversation.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Ambassador Wendy Sherman: Good morning. Good afternoon, Alexandra and Irene and thank you for that very kind introduction. I want to thank the German Marshall Fund and the Bertelsmann Foundation for your support of this important annual study and for organizing today’s events.
As was mentioned, I’ve just returned from my first overseas trip as Deputy Secretary of State, which began with meetings with both NATO and the EU leadership. I started my 11 day sojourn in Brussels, because I wanted to demonstrate as President Biden likes to say, that America is back. The transatlantic alliance is back.
Over the last 75 years, the United States and our European allies and partners have built a durable, democratic, and prosperous transatlantic community. Ours is an alliance that shaped the 20th century for the better, and help deliver security and opportunity not only for our own people, but for people everywhere.
Today, the transatlantic community is facing new challenges. As we’ve seen with the covid-19 pandemic, a crisis in one country can quickly engulf the entire world. We’re facing immediate and long-term threats from climate change. And our countries are under sustained attack by agents who are hostile to our democratic values, and who seek to undermine the rules-based international order we’ve worked so hard to build together.
It’s clear to President Biden, it’s clear to Secretary Blinken, and it’s clear to me that the only way the United States can meet these challenges is by working with our allies and partners. And our transatlantic ties remain the strongest foundation we have for realizing a better future for ourselves and the world.
This week, President Biden will underscore the United States’ commitment to our multilateral alliances, as he makes his first foreign trip to the United Kingdom and Belgium for summits with the G7, NATO, and with the EU.
The President will reiterate the United States’ steadfast commitment to NATO. The common defense of our NATO allies is a sacred trust, and the United States will always keep faith with Article Five: that an attack on one is an attack on all. And we will continue working with our partners to strengthen and modernize NATO, to tackle the challenges and threats we face today. And President Biden will seek to advance a common agenda with our G7 and EU partners on a wide range of issues from ending the Covid 19 pandemic and building our economies back better, to combating climate change and investing in clean energy, to deepening our collective defense of our democratic norms and institutions.
So, we have a lot of work ahead of us. The good news is that this is an agenda that has broad support from the public on both sides of the Atlantic.
I want to briefly highlight a few findings from the 2021 transatlantic trends report released this week.
There is a high level of trust on both sides of the Atlantic. A majority of Americans see our European partners as reliable, and majorities of Europeans feel the same about us.
The transatlantic community remain strongly supportive of NATO. A majority of those surveyed see NATO as important to their security, including more than six in 10 Americans.
In the European Union and the United States, the public sees the People’s Republic of China as, quote, “more of a rival than a partner.”
And there is an overwhelming consensus that our country should take a tougher stance, particularly around human rights, cybersecurity, and climate change.
These results tell us that the transatlantic relationship remains central, not only for the leaders of our countries, but for our people.
I want to offer more concrete thoughts on three issues that are top priorities for President Biden all of which are critical to the transatlantic community.
Ending the covid-19 pandemic is the most urgent task before us. In the United States and Europe, vaccines are allowing us to move back toward normal life. But as I saw firsthand on my recent trip, the pandemic is only getting worse beyond our borders. Even countries that had managed to hold infection rates down for many months, are now struggling with new variants and outbreaks.
No one is safe until everyone is safe. The United States is committed to working with our partners to manufacture more vaccines and supplies, to provide humanitarian and economic assistance and to make sure the world is better prepared for the next pandemic. Together, the United States and the European Union have pledged $45 billion to the global pandemic response. The United States has committed $4 billion to COVAX, more than any other nation. And we are working through the G7 and the G20 to accelerate both an end to the pandemic and to rebuild the global economy to the benefit of working people everywhere.
Last week, President Biden announced how the US will be sharing the first 25 million vaccine doses with countries around the world. Out of at least 80 million, we intend to provide by the end of June, and I suspect there will be much more to come.
As the President said when he made the announcement, “we are sharing these doses, not to secure favors or to extract concessions. We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic.”
We must also contend with a crisis that was with us before covid-19 and will be with us long after. I’m talking, of course about climate change.
The Biden administration has put addressing climate change at the center of our foreign and domestic policy. And we aren’t wasting any time because we know we don’t have that luxury. The science tells us that we need to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, if we want to avoid catastrophe. But we’re about two thirds of the way to that catastrophe already. And the world is struggling to cope with more intense storms, deeper droughts, fiercer wildfires, and searing heat waves.
That’s why President Biden moved to rejoin the Paris Agreement on his first day in office. He appointed former Secretary of State John Kerry as his Special Presidential Envoy for climate change. And the United States announced an ambitious new target to cut our greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
But just like ending the pandemic, we can’t solve the climate crisis alone. We’re working with our partners and allies every step of the way. That’s why on Earth Day, President Biden convened 40 world leaders in a virtual Climate Summit. We’ve restarted the Major Economies Forum on energy and climate, an important multilateral platform that helped make the Paris Agreement possible. And we joined 22 other governments to launch the second phase of Mission Innovation, a global effort to develop and deploy more clean energy.
Working together to combat climate change isn’t just about staving off catastrophe, although that’s important and urgent work; it’s also about seizing opportunity. The United States and Europe are home to world class research institutions, and innovative technology companies. When we invest in clean energy infrastructure, we create jobs and economic opportunity, reduce air pollution that harms human health, and improve the quality of life for people everywhere. And we set our countries up to win the future.
Finally, I want to talk about a challenge that’s going to help define the next century, and that is relationship between the United States, the EU, and China.
I was pleased to join the first high level meeting of the U.S.-EU dialogue on China two weeks ago. It was a productive and wide-ranging discussion, and the dialogue promises to be an important forum for collaboration as European capitals reassess their relationships with Beijing.
In recent years, China has used increasingly aggressive tactics to threaten the economies, security and values of the United States, and of our partners and allies. Beijing is targeting investments in critical infrastructure around the world and engaging in brazen thefts of intellectual property. They are committing appalling crimes against humanity, and acts of genocide in Xinjiang. And they’re waging a coercive campaign to undermine democratic values and rewrite the rules of the international system to favor their authoritarian approach to governance.
The United States’ position is clear: Our relationship with China will be collaborative where it can be, competitive where it should be, and adversarial where it must be.
Our aim is not to contain China, or to force other countries to choose sides. I made that crystal clear during my recent trip to Europe and Southeast Asia. Our goal is to uphold the rules based international system that has benefited all of us for decades, protecting freedom and human dignity, promoting prosperity and innovation, and keeping the peace.
Where we can, it’s imperative that we work with China, especially on issues that are truly global in scope, like climate change and health security.
And as President Biden has said, we welcome healthy competition with China on technology and the economy. Because so long as we’re all playing by the same rules, we’re confident that the world’s democracies can win the jobs and industries of the future.
But when the PRC violates international norms, and undermines the rules of the road, we won’t hesitate to take a stand. And for the United States, that means working with our partners and allies. The coordinated sanctions the US and the EU, together with Canada and the UK issued for human rights abuses in Xinjiang earlier this year, show that when we come together in defense of our values, we can put serious pressure on Beijing.
I remarked at the end of my time in Brussels recently, that I’ve been married to my husband Bruce for 41 years. And we don’t see eye to eye on everything. But we’ve always managed to find our way forward because we agree on so much more. And because we know how to work through our disagreements, I see the transatlantic relationship in similar terms.
I spoke to three big challenges today, where our interests are aligned. And where there are many more issues that we can touch on during our conversation. There are, of course, other areas where the United States and our transatlantic allies don’t agree, and where we will continue to discuss our differences.
But when one is standing on a firm foundation, a foundation of shared values, enduring trust and common goals, these discussions can only strengthen our relationship. And that is why the transatlantic alliance will continue to shape the world for the better in this century.
Thank you so much for this opportunity to speak with you today. I look forward to taking your questions and salute the German Marshall Fund and its partners on the Transatlantic Trends survey. Thank you.
Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you. Thank you so much, Ambassador Sherman, you put a lot of topics out there. I wanted to immediately get back to the EU-U.S. dialogue on China, which you mentioned that you recently launched with the European External Action Service Secretary General Stefano Sannino. Could you tell us a bit more about this dialogue? What are the key issues that are being or will be addressed in this format? How do you articulate this EU dialogue with the NATO discussions on China? Because obviously, as we are heading to the NATO Summit, as well, it seems that China will also be an important piece of the NATO framework. So how do they complement one another? And what do you say to European allies who are concerned by a U.S. policy that sometimes is viewed from Europe as a sort of new Cold War with China and the fact that Europeans don’t want to feel squeezed between the United States and China? So, these are just a few questions that I’ve been regrouping on China, you can pick and choose. But I think it’s an interesting way of engaging the discussion.
Deputy Secretary of State Sherman: Thank you, Alexandra. I agree. You know, as I said, we do not seek to contain China, hold China back. We want China to play by the international rules of this world that we have all constructed together. And the U.S.-EU China dialogue is organized around six pillars: resilience, reciprocity, security, human rights, multilateralism, and engagement. And we had colleagues from the European External Action Service and across the different sectors. We had colleagues on the American side as well. And it wasn’t just a, you know, you do your talking points, we do our talking points, we actually had a dialogue on issues under each of these pillars, where we agreed where we disagreed, how we could go forward. And the Secretary General has sent me a follow up note about how we should continue this conversation. I’ll be replying to him shortly, so this is going to be an ongoing set of workstreams. That will help us to get closer on a on an agreed way forward, even though the broad principles are already agreed to.
The NATO alliance is also obviously critical. It is a security foundation for all of us, the United States and Europe. And so I think these two approaches really do work together. Because we are looking at things like trade, multilateralism, investment, resilience, supply chains, human rights, security, to the extent that is within the competence of the European Union, NATO is looking at broader security dimensions. And hopefully both of these institutions work together to help to help advance our objectives here.
We understand that China plays a role in everybody’s economy, the United States economy as well, both investing in China as well as back and forth exports from China to the United States. But we want to make sure as I said, that the international rules-based order that we have constructed together stands. And when China does not play by those rules, when China takes our intellectual property, when China uses cyber capabilities in ways that undermine that fair playing field, when China abuses the human rights of its people, takes over in essence, Hong Kong, creates a genocide in Xinjiang against the Uyghurs, accelerates its aggression vis-à-vis Taiwan, these are issues of concern for European allies, and obviously a concern for NATO, there are areas where we will work together. Right now, of course, in constructing, getting back to compliance or compliance in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran, China is part very much of that negotiating team.
On the issues of climate, we cannot get to where we want to get to 1.5 degrees Celsius without China taking action. And on global health, we certainly want to understand where the pandemic really came from, and how it originated, not only for our own scientific interests, but China should be interested as well so that we do not face another pandemic and that we all take whatever actions we need to, to ensure that we don’t face such a crisis again. So, it’s a very complex strategy, but one I think that we are developing together, and we had a very successful and very animated first session.
Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you very much Ambassador Sherman. About NATO, you know, since the so-called “braindead” debate, a lot of attention has been paid to NATO’s political cohesion. But even before that, there are some cracks in the Atlantic alliance, and something that is particularly striking in the Transatlantic Trends results is the Turkey results. On average, less than a quarter of transatlantic respondents think that Turkey is a reliable partner, while only 23% of Turks believe that the United States can be trusted, and you pretty much have the same percentages for other transatlantic allies. You recently held political consultations in Ankara, Biden will be meeting with his Turkish counterparts in Brussels, how do you intend to deal with this, when we feel that there is a crisis of confidence with an important ally, such as Turkey?
Deputy Secretary of State Sherman: Well, I think Alexandra, you ended at a very important point, Turkey is a critical NATO ally. They are a very essential partner. They have been very helpful in Syria. They work with us in other countries around the world. They have been a partner in Afghanistan and elsewhere. It is not to say that we agree on everything. And we are concerned about their own approach to human rights, how they relate to countries that are in their neighborhood, including Iran and Russia. Russia in particular, obviously is of concern because of the S-400’s, which is an issue that is much discussed by the Turks and by us. So we had a lot of important conversations about issues around the world, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, elsewhere. They’ve been essential in the fight against terror around the world. They have been an important NATO ally, they bring forces that are critical to all of our security. So we had all of those discussions. And we also had discussions about where we disagree, where we have concerns, where we would like them to open up and have more democratic trends. So it’s not as simple relationship, few are in this world. But they are an important NATO ally, for all of us. And I think we have to continue to work on building and sustaining that relationship and encouraging Turkey to move in a direction where its democracy can really be real and strong and move forward.
Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you, but then I have a few questions on the EU-U.S. relationship. One question has to deal with the two Rs advanced by the Biden administration, the repair and the reform agenda, right? I think that the repair agenda is extremely visible and has already had a huge impact in repairing the damage caused by the previous American administration. But now we’re more in the sort of reform, or revitalizing agenda of the transatlantic partnership. So, the question here, also related to the EU-U.S. summit is: what concrete initiatives can be taken in that regard and what do you think should be done to adapt the transatlantic relationship to the current global challenges? And the more specific question on the digital and trade agenda, which are, you know, the trickier parts of the transatlantic agenda: How do you see the digital trade agenda moving forward? Do you expect any concrete results from the EU-U.S. summit?
Deputy Secretary of State Sherman: These are all issues about which we share a lot of the values but have different ways forward. In the U.S.-EU dialogue that we had on China, we obviously touched on these: on the Privacy Shield, over where we’re headed in the digital economy, what we want to do to maintain security of that digital economy, on which I think we all agree, on how we build the technology. So, I would suspect in the U.S.-EU dialogue that’s about to happen, that we are going to see progress in all of these areas. We’re going to see the engagement of our economic leadership with yours to try to advance our way forward. And I think there will be some very significant and, and meaningful announcements in that regard. I think, on the NATO front, there will be I hope, an endorsement of NATO 2030, which is really: where should NATO head? What should it look like? How do we modernize NATO?
Look, we are in the US government trying to move our government into this 21st century, bringing on board people in our personnel system that make sure that we look like America, that we have a foreign policy that responds to the middle and working class, so people understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. I think that’s important to Europe as well, to make sure that as we move forward, we understand it has to make some sense to people in their daily lives, so that we have the support, we need to protect people’s security, to ensure their prosperity, and to ensure peace and stability in the world.
So, I actually think we are headed in a very exciting and innovative way forward to embrace the technology of the future and what that will mean for us. Yesterday, the Biden administration released a supply chain resilience report, which is all about things we’re going to do here. But it’s also about working with all of you to make sure that we as partners have resilience and redundancy in supply chains, so that if anybody gets in trouble, we know that our partners and our allies can help us out and we can help out each other. I think there’s an exciting way ahead. It’s very difficult. It’s complex. It’s going to take very specific actions by both of us to ensure that we win this century. But I have no doubt that we can and that we will.
Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Ambassador Sherman, you mentioned responsibility sharing in the transatlantic relationship. We’ve asked a question in the Transatlantic Trends about the perception of the influence of the EU in world affairs. Just a few, 14%, of the respondents across 11 countries surveyed perceive the EU as the most influential player. The United States was way beyond 60%. And China around 20%. But my question here- and I’m trying to regroup some of the questions coming from the audience- is really about the notion of, you know, co leadership or responsibility sharing between the United States and the EU. And I have a question on the security division of labor. How can the recent developments in European defense cooperation contribute best to reinforcing NATO and how can it lead to increased burden sharing in crisis management between the US and its allies, concretely? Could you give us any examples of crisis or threats where the United States would accept to let European allies of NATO take the lead? Are they ready for this yet?
Deputy Secretary of State Sherman: I already think there are areas where Europe takes the lead. I think Europe has taken the lead in the Balkans, I think Europe has taken the lead in Libya, I think parts of the European Union have taken the lead in some of the African crises that we have all faced.
I think more important than who takes the lead, is how we each play a role in trying to deal with very complicated issues in the world. And so, Europe may take a lead, but the United States may provide a critical piece of the puzzle. Similarly, we may take the lead and Europe supplies a critical piece of the puzzle. So, I think, you know, the European Union is a young entity, in historical terms. It has not been around all of that long. The External Action Service, I remember when it was created when Baroness Cathy Ashton was the first high representative and had to, you know, get a building built and people hired and get underway. And that’s a very short time ago. So, I don’t think people should underestimate the European Union. At the same time, I think we all acknowledge that the European Union is a young institution that’s made a lot of progress, has to build its own capacity, first, internally, which you have spent a lot of time on, still has some internal issues to deal with, as we have internal issues in the United States to deal with. But we each have a critical role. And the challenges that I outlined in my initial statement, we will see at the US-EU at the NATO summit, at the G7 in the days ahead. That it will be because we are forced multipliers with each other, that we can take on major security issues that we can take on the pandemic, that we can address climate change, and we can build the industry, the innovation, the technology of the future, to win this century.
Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you, Ambassador Sherman. You also mentioned the importance of shared values. Last December, the European Commission published a joint communication for a new transatlantic agenda, and the EU stated that it was ready to play its full part in the summit for democracy. As we can see also in the Transatlantic Trends results, many European countries are concerned about the state of their democracy and would support initiatives that help address the question of democratic decline that affects them. Could you help us understand, because from the European perspective, it’s still not very clear, what are the objectives? What are the goals of the Biden administration for this so-called summit for democracy? How do you envision transatlantic cooperation on this specific issue? And will this issue be raised at the NATO and/or EU-US summits?
Deputy Secretary of State Sherman: Well, the President of the United States just authored an op-ed that appeared in the paper, I think, yesterday or the day before. And the fundamental core of that op-ed is that the real challenge for all of us, is whether the future is going to be one of democracy or of authoritarian rule. And the President made no bones about it, that this is what is before us. And we need to use every opportunity to strengthen our democracies, to push back against authoritarian governments which repress the human rights of its people, imperil the security of other nations, don’t play by the rules-based international order, in every way that we can, and do so within our own governments as well. The summit for democracy is one forum for discussion of what that will take, including, of course, anti-corruption, efforts, transparency, the values of democracies, what we all can work on together, to make sure that the future ahead is one of democracy. When I think of my two little grandsons, and what kind of world I want them to grow up in, I want to make sure that they grow up in a democratic world, not an authoritarian world, and that crucible is before us now. And so, it is a fundamental part of the work we have to do, and the fact that the transatlantic trends says that there’s some question about that, that people aren’t sure how we get there just points to the tremendous amount of work we have to do. And I think we will see that theme discussed by the President and by other leaders in this trip to Europe, and in the discussions and bilaterals that the President of the United States and the other leaders have. This is a crucial question for each of us.
Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: To build on that, there are a few questions on the Biden-Putin bilateral meeting. And obviously, this meeting is going to obviously take place in a very tense period for transatlantic relations with Russia. Structural issues like arms control, energy security will, obviously be discussed. But, what should be the objective of this meeting in the current context? We have an attendee asking, will the Navalny question be raised directly by President Biden in that context? What are the expectations of the administration for its relationship with Russia? And finally, another question that I regrouped with this one: there seems to be a lot of concern from the Biden administration regarding a potential Russia-China strategic alliance, is this something that is of genuine concern for the current American administration?
Deputy Secretary of State Sherman: So, President Biden has been very clear, as has Secretary Blinken, that what we look for is a reliable, predictable relationship with Russia. We’ve also been very clear that when Russia abuses the rights of its people, as they have done repeatedly, regarding Navalny, that we will speak up, that we will push back, that we will raise our concerns, we will try to bring the international community with us in that concern, and to try to ensure that Mr. Navalny is safe, that he has the medical needs attended to; I just saw as I came in here, that it appears that his group has been outlawed. Another way to push back—and not surprising in front of the meeting with President Biden that actions would be taken for Russia to say, “this is who we are, and you can’t push us around.” So, I fully expect that the President will raise our concerns about human rights and what Russia has done: poisoning Navalny, the horrendous killing that has taken place in the past is of enormous concern. And I have no doubt the President will raise this. We will also talk about the areas where we need to work together, arms control has historically been one of them, and how we are going to operate with each other in the world. We appreciate that Russia is a member of the Security Council, a power in the world, has made itself well-known in parts of the world that perhaps it wasn’t in before, as they have done in Syria. All these issues need to be addressed. We are clear-eyed about Mr. Putin’s ambitions. But what we are looking for is a reliable and a predictable relationship with Russia.
Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you, Ambassador Sherman. Let me move to a topic that you particularly know well, which is Iran and the JCPOA. We have a few questions on that: What is your current assessment of the multilateral efforts to revive the JCPOA and to bring Iran back into compliance? What is the U.S. role in the short-to-medium term and what role does the EU play in that perspective? Does the Biden administration support a grand bargain that incorporates the nuclear issue with Iran’s destabilizing action in its neighborhood?
Deputy Secretary of State Sherman: Thank you. Well, first of all, my deep thanks to Europe. Europe held on to the JCPOA for as long as they possibly could. And Europe has been at the center of the current negotiation to try to get compliance for compliance, so that the United States can rejoin the JCPOA and to ensure that Iran agrees to continued conversation about the range of issues that are of concern to us: their behavior in the region, their human rights abuses, their missile development, where they are headed, their detaining of American citizens, and their never coming to account on Robert Levinson, a missing American who has been missing for quite a long time. So, there are a lot of issues with Iran, but at the center, must be getting back into this position of compliance for compliance. Because, if Iran is allowed to have a nuclear weapon, their ability to project power into the middle east will be even greater and project power toward Europe and to us even greater. And it will be impossible to deal with all of the other issues of concern. I know that the negotiation will start again over this coming weekend. I’m very grateful for the European Union, a political director who shuttles back and forth, as do other Europeans, between the hotel with the Iranians and where the Americans are, because this is not a direct negotiation, as you all know. And I think there’s been a lot of progress made, but out of my own experience, until the last detail is nailed down, and I mean, nailed down, we will not know if we have an agreement. This is complicated, of course, by the Iranian presidential election, which is happening in just a few days. And we will see where everything goes. I hope we can get to compliance for compliance, a commitment to continue to work on all of the other issues of concern. And I’m very, very grateful for what Europe has done in leading the way to trying to get back to the JCPOA, and then to build a stronger foundation for this relationship by addressing all of the other issues of concern.
Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you very much, Ambassador Sherman. And then I have a last question on this format of cooperation and this one deals with the G7. Some say that the G7 is outdated and needs to be reformed and expanded to include other democracies, i.e., from Asia. What is your opinion on that? And the related question is, would the ideal format be the sort of G10, which is pretty much how the G7 is going to be handled at the end of the week with Australia, South Korea, and India. What are the best formats of cooperation? It seems that Biden picks and chooses formats, depending on the issues. So, this is a group of questions on the formats of cooperation, the G7 and should be included additional countries, or should it be just some ad hoc approaches?
Deputy Secretary of State Sherman: Well, look, I think this is ultimately for the G7 as a group to decide. I think all of these formats are important. And I think regional organizations are important. One of the things we’ve seen by President Biden, Vice President Harris, Secretary Blinken is a return to the value of multilateralism and to organizations that can be force multipliers for the values and for the objectives that we all have. So, I think it’s terrific the G7 is meeting; but then bringing in other growing, developing economies, and important economies that can help be force multipliers for the discussions the G7 will have. I think the US-EU dialogue is critical. I think NATO is critical. I think, when I was in Southeast Asia, ASEAN is a critical organization to deal with issues in Southeast Asia, the quad that has developed with India, Japan, Australia, the United States, is a format that is useful. So, it is not that these are in competition with each other. They all provide slightly different approaches and take leads in different areas. ASEAN, for instance, is taking lead on the crisis in Burma, which we hope moves forward to a better place for the Burmese people soon, because it’s quite concerning. So, I think these are all good formats, very useful. Multilateralism is critical, even as countries have their own sovereign interests. The G7 got started as the largest economies in the world, industrial economies. I think there’s still some value to that as we look to the future of technology, but I also think it’s a terrific thing that India, Australia, South Korea have been asked to join to discuss the broad agenda that we all share in common.
Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you very much. A verylast question. We have two, three minutes left. There’s a lot of questions on Russia. What is the Biden administration asking from its European friends and allies in their Russia policy? The United States has shied away from sanctions on certain participants in the Nord Stream 2 project. What measures would you like to see from Europeans to set clear boundaries for Russia?
Deputy Secretary of State Sherman: This is a decision for Europe to make. Russia is in your neighborhood, in a way that it is not for the U.S. Your trading relationship with Russia is different than ours. So, this is a complicated question. Where Nord Stream 2 is concerned, as Secretary Blinken said in his testimony to the Senate yesterday, we do not think Nord Stream 2 is a good idea. We do not think it helps European security. We think that it creates problems for Ukraine and for European in general, we have tried to make that clear. To those who are building North Stream 2. We, of course, came into this administration when the construction of the pipeline was 95% done. So, it limits our options. We want to see whether there are ways to mitigate the issues of great concern to us. We are beginning those discussions in earnest.
We have not seen the operation of the pipeline yet. We hope that there will be serious consideration, if that goes forward. So, there’s much discussion yet to be had. It is a complex issue. We of course care deeply about our relationship with Germany, and are glad that we are in discussions to see if we can figure out a way to ensure the energy security in Europe, ensure that Russia does not play an outsized role in that energy security, to support Ukraine, which is constantly challenged by Russia. So, these conversations are critical. I hope we can find a mutual way forward. That is the ambition. But make no mistake, as the Secretary said yesterday, we do not think North Stream 2 is a good idea.
Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you, Ambassador Sherman, thank you so much for sharing your insight with us today in between two intense diplomatic sequences. We really appreciate your time. Thank you for your interest in the Transatlantic Trends, which everyone can now access. And we will be you know, watching very closely the outcomes of these summits. I think that one thing we truly have in common with the Biden administration as a European is that we want multilateralism to deliver and to be efficient and to deliver concrete results. So hopefully, this will be the case. And thank you again, so much. And we look forward to keeping in touch and have a great day.
Deputy Secretary of State: Thank you, Alexandra. It was terrific to be with you all today. Again, super job on the transatlantic trends. And yes, I agree with you. Democracy has to deliver. And that’s the work that we’re all doing together. Thank you.
Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you, Ambassador Sherman. See you all very soon. Thank you all for participating. Goodbye. Have a lovely day.