President Joe Biden is considering appointing Mark Gitenstein as his ambassador to the European Union and Julie Smith as his envoy to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, sources tell Axios.
Biden plans to travel to the United Kingdom for the G-7 Summit in early June and then to Brussels for a NATO summit and several of his advisers want to have the positions filled ahead of his first foreign trip as president.
Biden, according to Axios, has been reviewing a list of potential ambassadors since March, but has yet to make a final choice.
Smith, one of Biden's deputy national security advisers from 2012 to 2013 during the Obama administration, is currently a senior adviser at the State Department.
Gitenstein is an international lawyer and President Barack Obama's first ambassador to Romania. He is currently senior counsel in the international trade practice at Mayer Brown LLP, and also serves on the board of directors for The Biden Foundation, according to Axios.
Even with these appointments being finalized, the Biden Administration has a tough road ahead convincing EU member states to effectively confront China economically, because the EU tends to view China as a new market, instead of as a competitor.
The Biden administration will also continue to demand NATO allies spend at least 2 percent of the GDP on their defense budget, as they pledged to do by 2024 during a 2014 summit in Wales held by former President Donald Trump.
Trump’s tariffs on EU steel and aluminum are still in place, untouched by Biden, even though the European Union’s retaliatory 25 percent tax on American whiskey potentially doubles in June, reports Axios.
In March, officials on both sides of the Atlantic did move to reduce tensions from a long-running subsidy dispute over Boeing and Airbus, with both sides announcing a suspension in tariffs on billions of dollars in goods.
Biden has only announced 10 ambassadors out of 190 open positions, reports Axios.
Biden has had 36 of his political appointees confirmed by the Senate. That number is well ahead of President Trump's 25 confirmations after his first 100 days in office, according to the Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service.
Biden's numbers are well below the 68 confirmed appointees that Obama had at his 100-day mark.
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