Ahead of the summit with US President Joe Biden, the European Union called on Washington to resolve the trade dispute over tariffs on steel and aluminum.
The basics in brief
- Ahead of the summit with Biden, Brussels calls for a solution to the Trump-era steel struggle.
The Vice-President of the European Union Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, said on Wednesday in the European Parliament that the US government must now “turn words into action”. He noted that in the dispute, the European Union had recently abandoned the automatic increase in punitive tariffs from June 1.
US President Biden is expected to meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Council President Charles Michel in Brussels on Tuesday during his visit to Europe. Trade relations between the two sides had deteriorated significantly under his predecessor, Donald Trump. Trump has accused the European Union of unfair competition and regularly criticized Europeans’ high export surpluses in reciprocal trade.
In June 2018, Trump imposed punitive tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum from Europe. The European Union responded by imposing counter-tariffs on 2.8 billion euros worth of US goods, including whiskey, jeans, orange juice and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
After Trump was replaced by President Biden, the Europeans decided not to raise those tariffs again as planned. At the same time, it agreed to hold talks with the United States about global spare capacities in steel and aluminum. It should be completed by the end of the year.
The first sign of relaxation was already given a few weeks after Biden took office. At the beginning of March, the two sides suspended punitive tariffs in the ongoing row over subsidies for aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing.
Ana Paula Zacharias, Portugal’s Minister of State for Europe, whose country currently holds the presidency of EU member states, said the EU-US summit has “the potential to be an important milestone in the renewal and revitalization of our partnership”. In addition to trade policy, she also named the joint fight against the coronavirus pandemic, the promotion of climate-friendly growth, and a commitment to a “more democratic and peaceful world” as key issues.