President Joe Biden heads to Europe next week for a series of high-stakes meetings and summits. Here’s a primer on what to know:
First stop: Vatican City
Biden, a devout Catholic, will meet Pope Francis on October 29. The two leaders will “discuss working together on efforts grounded in respect for fundamental human dignity, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the climate crisis, and caring for the poor,” according to the White House.
- Also for your radar: There is controversy among some Catholic church leaders over whether to allow Biden to accept communion because of his stance on abortion. Biden has said he is personally opposed to abortion but does not believe he should impose his views on the rest of society. Pope Francis has already weighed in, saying bishops debating whether to deny communion to public figures who support abortion rights should make those decisions from a “pastoral” viewpoint and not a political one.
- And this isn’t their first time meeting – then-former Vice President Biden met Pope Francis in 2016.
Next up: Rome for the G20
At the top of the October 30-31 agenda: Biden will seek to smooth things over with the French amid the worst diplomatic spat between the two nations in years. He plans to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron to reaffirm the US’ commitment to working with France on a range of global issues. (France recently recalled its ambassador to the US in response to the newly announced national security partnership between the US, United Kingdom and Australia).
- Biden is also dispatching Vice President Kamala Harris to Paris in November to continue to work to patch the relationship, according to the White House.
- Trump left the November 2020 G20 summit on a sour note: Trump railed against the Paris climate accord and touted American oil and natural gas production during a virtual session focused on safeguarding the environment on the final day of the Group of 20 summit.
- This isn’t Biden’s first time with G20 leaders. Earlier this month, Biden convened a virtual G20 summit with leaders to specifically discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
After that: Glasgow, for the COP26 Climate Summit
The pressure here is even higher. “In every meeting, it’s about this issue, all leading up to Glasgow,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday at a recent climate rally outside the US Capitol.
In Glasgow on November 1 and 2, the discord between Biden’s proposals and the current hold-up in Congress could potentially embarrassingly play out on the international stage.
- According to CNN’s Ella Nielsen: The big question is whether Biden will be able to go to COP with concrete commitments from the US. Much of the president’s climate agenda depends on Congress, and whether it can pass the president’s massive budget and climate bill before COP26 starts. The fate of that bill is uncertain, as negotiations between members of Biden’s own party drag on with little clarity on an end date.
The Point: Biden will finish October with a packed, high-pressure travel schedule across Europe.