Many vaccinated Europeans breathed a collective sigh of relief when the United States lifted an 18-month travel ban this week. The reciprocative gesture was a victory for diplomacy, and may have eased tensions, but the transatlantic relationship remains politically strained, according to Northeastern faculty experts in international relations.
The pandemic-related restrictions irked Britain and European Union nations, with some of their citizens taking to social media to air their frustrations. “Please follow science,” one person wrote on stopthetravelban.com. “(W)hy can Americans come to Europe and fly back and me, vaccinated, can’t enter?”
The ban will end in November, President Joe Biden said ahead of this week’s UN General Assembly meeting in New York. Still, there remains an air of unpredictability about America among the UK and EU, says Fiona Creed, an associate teaching professor at Northeastern who previously worked with the EU delegation to the UN. “There was a sense in the EU countries that with Biden coming into power that there was going to be a change in relations” from the Trump administration, says Creed. Eight months into Biden’s term, “there’s a sense of mistrust with what the U.S. has done and has continued to do under Joe Biden, just simply because the EU in general hasn’t seen change.”
Biden’s foreign policy at this stage of his presidency is “still pretty undefined,” explains Julie Garey, an assistant teaching professor of political science who specializes in international relations and U.S. foreign policy.