European Interest

A warning to Washington from Brussels

Flickr/Gage Skidmore/CC BY-SA 2.0
US President Donald Trump said he had a lot of problems with the EU and that it could “morph into something big” on trade.

If the United States restricts trade with the European Union, Brussels will take countermeasures.

“The European Union stands ready to react swiftly and appropriately in case our exports are affected by any restrictive trade measures from the United States,” warned European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas.

“It is not about winners and losers. We here in the European Union believe that trade can be and should be win-win,” he added.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Schinas’ comments come after US President Donald Trump threatened to confront the EU over its “very unfair” trade policy.

In an interview with Britain’s ITV broadcast on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 28, Trump said he had a lot of problems with the EU and that it could “morph into something big” on trade.

Trump’s remarks come just one week after the US imposed tariffs of 20% on imported washing machines and of 30% on incoming solar cells and modules. These are among the first unilateral trade restrictions made by the administration as part of a broader protectionist agenda, according to Reuters.

In a separate report, FRANCE 24 online noted that Trump also appeared to slight British Prime Minister Theresa May’s handling of fraught Brexit negotiations, declaring that he would have “negotiated it differently”.

“I would have had a different attitude,” he said of the talks, which have followed Britain’s June 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU, and will continue through to its planned departure in March 2019.

“I think I would have said that the European Union is not cracked up to what it’s supposed to be. And I would have taken a tougher stand in getting out,” Trump added.

During the interview, which was the first of his presidency with a non-US international broadcaster, Trump was asked if he identifies as a feminist. He replied: “No, I wouldn’t say I’m a feminist. I mean, I think that would be, maybe, going too far. I’m for women, I’m for men, I’m for everyone.”

According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP), Trump also signalled he would be willing to recommit the US to the Paris climate accord, but only if the treaty undergoes major change.

“The Paris accord, for us, would have been a disaster,” he said in the January 28 interview. “If they made a good deal… there’s always a chance we’d get back.”

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