1 of 3 | President Joe Biden meets with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the White House on Friday, during which the two leaders discussed united efforts on economic cooperation, climate challenges, and ways to strengthen national security as the war in Ukraine continues. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
March 10 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden met with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the White House on Friday, during which the two leaders discussed united efforts on economic cooperation, climate challenges, and efforts to strengthen national security.
Noting shared values between the United States and Europe, the leaders also reaffirmed their cooperation to support Ukraine as the conflict approaches its 13th month.
"Two years ago, we committed to a new era of understanding between the EU and the U.S.," Biden said in opening the meeting, according to a transcript provided by the White House. "I told you then that times have changed from the previous administration and that we view the EU as a great addition to security and economic security. And I thought we could benefit all our peoples, and I think we have."
A substantial part of the meeting was devoted to discussing new clean-energy strategies designed to turn the tide on the global climate crisis, a topic the White House announced before Friday's meeting.
In Friday's meeting, Biden said the United States and the EU remain committed to addressing the climate crisis and that the effort can lead to good-paying jobs and innovative advances that will drive down costs for clean-energy technologies worldwide in the future.
"We're driving new investments to create clean-energy industries and jobs, and make sure we have supply chains available to both ... our continents," Biden said, adding that the idea "underpins" the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act and the EU's Green Deal Industrial Plan.
In January, Von der Leyen urged the EU to establish policy to rival Biden's Inflation Reduction Act, saying the 27-nation bloc needed a comprehensive net-zero subsidy package to counter massive green-energy spending in Washington, which was giving the United States an unfair competitive edge on an uneven global playing field, she said.
And late last year, Von der Leyen said the "Buy American" approach and tax breaks could "lead to discrimination" against European companies, while EU members criticized Biden's policies as having the potential to draw business away from Europe and potentially lead to a trade war.
Biden and von der Leyen also discussed progress on a joint task force looking at Europe's energy security; it was established one year ago to taper the region's dependence on Russian oil.
Biden said "the steps the U.S. and the EU are taking over the last few years has increased energy security, it's ... our economic security, and, I would argue, our national security."
Calling the United States and EU "good friends," Von der Leyen told Biden the EU was especially thankful to him because "you helped us enormously when we wanted to get rid of the Russian fossil fuel dependency."
"We are, as partners, strongly supporting together Ukraine, that fight for freedom and independence," she said. "We're making Russia pay for its atrocious war. We're strongly aligned in defending our values."
On that front, the EU finalized a 10th round of sanctions worth $11 billion against Russia in February, which was timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the invasion. In a symbolic move the same day, the Biden administration also announced a plan to send $2 billion in defense funds and equipment to Ukraine as part of a new security assistance package.
The White House said it will ask Congress for an additional $250 million in emergency aid to help Ukraine maintain its power grid and another $300 million in emergency assistance to bring energy independence to Moldova.
The sanctions from the EU were intended to target Russian President Vladimir Putin's ability to acquire weapons components and equipment from other nation-states that have served to shore up its depleted arsenal.
Previously, Von der Leyen expressed her commitment to turn up the pressure on Russia in the weeks ahead, but the war has only intensified in recent days.
"Russia will also have to pay for the destruction it caused and will contribute to the reconstruction of Ukraine," she said at a February meeting of the European Commission.
Last month, Biden also visited Kyiv and Warsaw, Poland, where he reasserted the U.S. commitment to stand with Ukraine "for as long as it takes."