Following President Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on European steel and aluminum, the EU now plans to make its case to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, had about sixteen meetings with the U.S. Secretary of Commerce about the tariffs, but they were not willing to listen.
At a press conference on Friday, Malmström said that the EU will now look at “rebalancing measures.” This could mean that the EU will either neutralize or retaliate against the U.S. with European tariffs.
“When they say America First, we say Europe United,” she said.
As reported by NPR, the trade commissioner said while the EU does not intend to escalate any situation, not responding would indicate that the EU is willing to accept the tariffs, which they consider is “illegal.”
“We will now trigger a dispute settlement case at the WTO since the U.S. measures on steel and aluminum clearly go against agreed international rules,” she said.
Besides the EU, the Trump administration has also imposed tariffs on Canada and Mexico, citing national security concerns.
She criticized Trump’s decision and pointed out that the tariffs have got nothing to do with national security. “It is pure protectionism.”
Echoing Canadian President Justin Trudeau, Malmström said that the tariffs would hurt jobs in the U.S. as well. She said that China is to be blamed for the problems identified by the U.S., and not the EU.
“I have argued for the EU and the US to engage in a positive transatlantic trade agenda, and for the EU to be fully permanently and unconditionally exempted from these tariffs. This is also what EU leaders have asked for. Throughout these talks, the U.S. has sought to use the threat of trade restrictions as leverage to obtain concessions from the EU. This is not the way we do business, and certainly not between longstanding partners, friends, and allies,” she said.
The EU To Launch Legal Proceedings
The European Union will launch legal proceedings against the U.S. in the WTO on June 1. According to a press release, issued by the Commission via Europa.eu, it is determined to shield the EU steel and aluminum markets from damage caused by additional imports that might be coming into the EU as a result of the closure of the U.S. market. The Commission has also put in place a surveillance system for imports of aluminum to be prepared in case action will be required in that sector.
“They think they can make Europeans look small. That’s not going to happen,” said EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.