Brussels has responded to United States President Donald Trump’s announcement about the imposition of restrictions in the form of an import surcharge on European Union exports to the US of steel and aluminium. The import duties are set at 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium.

“We strongly regret this step, which appears to represent a blatant intervention to protect US domestic industry and not to be based on any national security justification,” said President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. “Protectionism cannot be the answer to our common problem in the steel sector. Instead of providing a solution, this move can only aggravate matters. The EU has been a close security ally of the US for decades. We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk.”

Juncker was quick to stress that Brussels is preparing to react.

“I had the occasion to say that the EU would react adequately and that’s what we will do,” he said. “The EU will react firmly and commensurately to defend our interests. The Commission will bring forward in the next few days a proposal for WTO-compatible countermeasures against the US to rebalance the situation.”

In turn, European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström warned the US measures will have a negative impact on transatlantic relations and on global markets. They will also raise costs and reduce choice for US consumers of steel and aluminium.

“The root cause of problems in these two sectors is global overcapacity caused by non-market based production. This can only be addressed at the source and by working with the key countries involved. This go-it-alone action by the US will not help.”