Greens: Juncker must be 'pushed around' by US

Written by Martin Banks on 31 July 2018 in News
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The Greens have urged European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker “not to be pushed around” by the United States.

Photo credit: Press Association


It follows a meeting last week between Juncker and US President Donald Trump.

The meeting focused on the threat of a trade war between the EU and US after Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Europe to the US.

European Green Party co-Chairs Reinhard Bütikofer and Monica Frassoni have issued a statement in which they urged the EU “not to be pushed around” by the US.


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The statement read, “Juncker has been tasked with presenting a united European front. He is the only European representative in a position to demonstrate the EU’s collective will not to be pushed around by the US.”

They hoped his visit was “an opportunity for Juncker to address a wider audience within the Republican Party, which is divided over Trump’s aggressive approach to international trade.”

It went on, “He may find them more receptive to the EU’s more moderate, positive-sum strategy.

“However, we should not be holding our breath. The likelihood that Juncker will succeed in getting Trump to abolish the illegal steel and aluminium tariffs in the near future is extremely slim. 

“It would at least be helpful if the US committed to exploring the range of options to ward off the eventuality of an escalating trade war that would damage both sides.  We should also seize the opportunity to move forward with long-overdue WTO reform talks.

“Ultimately, it is in our interests to prepare for all eventualities, especially the worst. The US is by no means impervious to a European echo to its measures, such as against internet giants Google and Amazon, who pay no tax in Europe and reap huge profits. We should not be afraid to use our leverage if Trump shows himself unwilling to engage in constructive dialogue.”

Europe’s business community gave a cautious welcome to the outcome of the meeting between Juncker and Trump.

It follows the agreement reached between the two presidents on Tuesday to work towards a trade agreement with zero tariff and non-tariff barriers and zero subsidies for non-auto industrial goods.

The pair also reached agreement on reforming WTO to address “unfair” trade practices, to refrain from new tariffs and resolve steel and aluminium tariffs and rebalancing measures.

Reaction to the outcome of the meeting on trade in Washington came from BusinessEurope president Pierre Gattaz who said that “reason has prevailed.”

Gattaz added, “The agenda for talks between the EU and the US to de-escalate the current trade conflict is the right one. Eliminating tariffs and other barriers to trade and investment can bring benefits for businesses and citizens on both sides of the Atlantic. European business is ready to give its contribution in the discussions between the EU and the US. President Juncker and Commissioner Malmström did an excellent job.”

BusinessEurope Director General Markus Beyrer added, “The commitment to work jointly on the reform of WTO is also crucial. European business wants a level playing field with modern and effective rules. On WTO too, we are prepared to engage in the debate and bring constructive proposals to improve the world trading system.”

 

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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