US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived Monday in Brussels for talks with EU and NATO officials.
Pompeo saw European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen on Monday; he went on to meet EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, Council President Charles Michel, and EU Parliament President David Sassoli on Tuesday.
Pompeo also met NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
While meeting with the incoming leadership, the Secretary of State avoided consultations with the incumbent President of the European Commission, Jean-Paul Juncker, or the President of the European Council Donald Tusk.
The new European Commission comes into office on November 1st while the President of the European Council on December 1st.
Transatlantic relations have been tested over the last few years as Transatlantic partners do not see eye-to-eye on Iran, the Sino-American trade war, and climate change. More recently, Washington has threatened Europe – particularly Berlin – with tariffs on cars and car parts. The fear of a new trade war between the US and the EU has grown following a World Trade Organization ruling that finds Airbus guilty of using state subsidies, distorting competition.
Ahead of his arrival to Brussels, Pompeo talked of “meaningful, effective multilateralism” while the US Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, spoke of an opportunity for a “reset” in the relationship between Washington and Brussels.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Ambassador Sondland acknowledged that there is a need to build “some more trust and confidence” on a number of issues between the two sides of the Atlantic, including Iran, Venezuela, China, and 5G infrastructure.
Sondland reiterated the US demand for increased European contribution in collective defence, with a specific emphasis on open and highly transparent procurement procedures, expressing reservations about “protectionist” practices.
Sondland neither confirmed nor denied Huawei’s allegations on Tuesday, which suggested Washington has launched cyberattacks both against the company and other Chinese agencies. However, he did reiterate cautionary remarks that cooperation with the Chinese company in 5G infrastructure will undermine cooperation with the United States.