Europe breathed a sigh of relief after Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, following a difficult period for transatlantic relations under Donald Trump. Yet, a friendlier tone in Washington has not so far translated into markedly better relations between the US and Europe. This article inquires why Biden – a pro-European President by disposition – is not proving more amenable to transatlantic relations in general, and European strategic autonomy in particular. It suggests that the considerable continuity between Biden and Trump can be explained by an interplay between the historical legacy of transatlantic relations, international and domestic structural factors, and on-going ideational contests over US grand strategy. Considering these factors, the US approach to Europe in the Biden era looks to oscillate between a ‘primacy’ model, marked by a US expectation that it will continue to lead and determine the direction of the transatlantic alliance, as well as ‘benign neglect’ of Europe in an age marked by ‘strategic competition’ with China. Neither approach is particularly conducive to the development of European Union (EU) strategic autonomy. In the meantime, the transition from Trump to the Biden era continues to hold little promise for a mutually negotiated ‘major reform’ of the transatlantic relationship.