What United States’ political policy will look like

November 26, 2020

Communication agency Omnicom PR Group and the professional organization of communication professionals, Logeion, organized a webinar on Thursday November 12th discussing “The next US president” . The purpose of this webinar was to provide insight into the direction of America’s  upcoming policy and its impact on the Netherlands and Europe.

The first panel consisted of US lobbyists Caroline Behringer (UpShift Strategies), Noah Black (Portland Communications) and Justin Kissinger (Heineken), who mainly explored policy choices that Joe Biden will likely action upon. The second panel brought together Dutch experts and Americanists from politics, business and academia. These were Martijn van Helvert (CDA Member of Parliament), Marcel Halma (Nouryon) and Ruth Oldenziel (Eindhoven University of Technology). The input of these panel members mainly focused on the impact of the election results on Dutch policy.

Here are three major highlights of Joe Biden’s political policy as discussed during the webinar.

1. Economic policy: the art of compromise

Normally, during their first hundred days, new US presidents carries important pillars of their policy through the Congress and Senate. The experts expect that this will not be the case now, due to the great political division and the small majority of Democrats. As Caroline Behringer put it, “This will be the shortest honeymoon of any president”. The most important part of Biden’s economic policy will be to find the middle ground and to make compromises, so his administration will not take full control of the agenda.

An investment that both parties (Republicans and Democrats) are likely to support is in the field of infrastructure, such as roads, ports, etc. In addition, Joe Biden is expected to apply decrees in sectors and themes such as Big Tech, banks and sustainability.

2. Catching up on sustainability

At the federal level, the greening of the US will become an important pillar over the next four years. As a result, many companies do not expect a major change for their operations in the US, except when it comes to environmental regulations. Biden has already indicated that he will immediately rejoin the Paris Agreement, although ratification by the Congress and Senate will not be forthcoming.

Martijn van Helvert indicates that this development means that “the US will probably be more involved in the European sustainability model”. While a few states are very progressive in terms of climate action, Biden must keep in mind that the federal government is lagging behind. For example, in the design of the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The European Union and China are currently leading in this and America will have to catch up.

3. Globalization is back, but tensions remain

The current state of affairs surrounding sustainability already indicates that the Biden’s administration will focus more on diplomacy, multilateralism and international treaties. For Europe this will mean, among other things, that the United Kingdom will be forced to seek more rapprochement. But as is often the case with Democrats, domestic politics is high on the agenda and at the same time the cold war with China will continue.

All speakers of the public affairs panel indicated that although globalization continues to exist, there is much power politics surrounding the distribution of raw materials and the strategic importance of supply chains. Within these tensions between the US and China, Europe is in a tricky position that Marcel Halma, Vice President Public Affairs & Government Relations at Nouryon, has labeled as “the battlefield”.

All these macro developments are essential to take into account when setting up a public affairs agenda for the coming years. They are trends that cannot be ignored in business operations and that must also be reflected in lobby activities.

Watch the two panel discussions here:

Curious what your public affairs strategy could look like? Please contact: [email protected]

Photo by Brandon Mowinkel via Unsplash.