Former WTO chief Pascal Lamy on Joe Biden’s victory: ‘A big moment of relief’

Video on France24 website

How will Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election impact Europe? And can Europe find its place amid the rivalries between the United States and China? We put these questions and more to former World Trade Organization head Pascal Lamy.

Having Biden as president “will not change the world”, the former WTO chief told FRANCE 24. “We still have a host of problems to cope with together… But I believe that addressing these problems, coping with them, trying to solve them together will be much easier with a Biden administration than with a Trump administration who spent a lot of time trying to simply demolish the multilateral cooperation system.”

Lamy also cast doubt on the prospects for an EU-US trade deal. “This dream of a grand transatlantic trade agreement – that would totally open trade between Europe and the US – is dead, for a variety of reasons: some good, some in my view less good.”

‘We have to be more united’

Asked about multilateralismLamy called for more European unity: “The Europeans have their say when they are united, they don’t when they are divided. So if the Europeans want to properly defend and promote both our interests and our values, we have to be more united. We are united in trade and it works. We are sort-of united on environment and it works. And if Joe Biden goes back to the Paris agreement, this will be thanks to some sort of leadership in Europe.

Turning to the future of US-China relations, the former WTO chief sounded a note of caution: “With this US-China rivalry that is here to stay, Biden will manage it differently from Trump, but the rivalry is here to stay. We will probably have to make our own contribution more solid – and this necessitates more unity.”

Finally, asked about Brexit and the possibility of the UK and the EU trading on so-called “Australia-style” terms, Lamy did not mince his words: “[The UK] trading on EU-Australia terms is just a joke. The EU and Australia have no agreement at all. They trade on WTO rules, which as I often said, are the third division, compared to the first league which is the internal market. So trading on Australian-EU terms means no trade deal at all, and I think this should not be the way to go.”

Produced by Mathilde Bénézet and Yi Song