SOFIA, Bulgaria — May 17, 2018, 10:32 AM ET

EU to Trump: Stop threatening us with tariffs

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The European Union has called on U.S. President Donald Trump's administration to stop threatening it with tariffs on steel and aluminum, saying Thursday it is prepared to discuss new trade incentives.

In March, Trump slapped tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on imported aluminum, but granted the 28 EU countries a temporary exemption until June 1. He also temporarily exempted big steel producers Canada and Mexico, provided they agree to renegotiate a North American trade deal to his satisfaction.

"It's Europe's economic sovereignty, and what we are demanding is that we are exempted without conditions or time limits," French President Emmanuel Macron said in Bulgaria, where EU leaders have gathered for a summit with Balkans countries.

Convinced that the U.S. move breaks global trade rules, the EU has drawn up a list of "rebalancing" duties worth some 2.8 billion euros ($3.4 billion) to impose on U.S. products if it is not permanently exempt. It has vowed not to negotiate under threat.

"I don't think we have to consider this or that, when it contravenes the laws of international trade," Macron said.

But he added: "We can improve things, in a peaceful setting."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel echoed his remarks.

"We have a common position; we want an unlimited exemption, but are then prepared to talk about how we can reciprocally reduce barriers for trade," she told reporters in the Bulgarian capital Sofia.

Should the exemptions be dropped, the EU stands ready to deepen trans-Atlantic energy cooperation, notably on liquefied natural gas, improve reciprocal market access for industrial products and work together to reform the rules of the World Trade Organization.

"The EU is even ready to talk about trade liberalization with our American friends but only if the U.S. decides an unlimited exemption from steel and aluminum tariffs," said EU Council President Donald Tusk after chairing the summit.

The EU rejects Trump's assertion that the tariffs are needed for U.S. national security and sees them as protectionist measures designed to boost local businesses. Most EU countries are U.S. allies in NATO.

Trump's approach to tariffs combined with his unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement are costing Europe time and money, and some leaders are weighing whether a new approach is needed.

"The real geopolitical problem is when you have — not an unpredictable opponent or enemy — the problem is if your closest friend is unpredictable," Tusk said.

"I can agree with President Trump when he says that unpredictability can be a very useful tool in politics. But only against enemies or opponents. Unpredictability is in my opinion the last thing we need when you are friends."

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Geir Moulson in Berlin and Raf Casert in Brussels contributed to this report.

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  • fmd160

    ....., the EU.............
    has vowed not to negotiate under threat.
    Good for them!!! and any person or Country that will do the same.

  • Heavy Rain is Coming

    China has purchased record amounts of soybeans from Russia in recent months amid trade tensions with the U.S., Bloomberg reported.
    trump fulfillment of soviet promises.

    Sorry heartland farmers/trump supporters.
    trump 2020. /s

  • 40words

    Trump is a bumbling moron, and the everybody around the globe knows it.

  • PaulCrozer

    The Don colludes with our enemies, alienates our allies, and puts giant stake in the heart of the Middle East peace process by moving the Embassy........and thinks he should get the Nobel Peace Prize. Bigly Laughable.

  • arlecchino

    EU to trump "with friends like that who needs enemies?"
    Does trump realize the Euro zone is by far THE largest economy in the world and they have no need for USA products?

  • bilahn

    Trump is not a "friend" to anybody. Far from it - he only cares about himself and betrays everyone.

  • Washingtononfire

    he makes threats and then backs down. He's unpredictable. That's why he's not a good businessman. He has no idea what he's doing.

  • jimi johnson

    Nope. The days of obama grabbing his ankles diplomacy are over.

  • duckkdownn

    The biggest mistake the Europeans are making is thinking that Trump cares about breaking laws.

  • Arryandan

    Obviously, Trump doesn't know anything about politics. Our Allies are jumping ship, the only country happy with us is Russia, and that's mostly because they are stealing our National secrets at blinding speed through the internet.

  • Stephen Bishop

    Good for the E.U.. Trump is in his own world and he is the only one in it. He's an island unto himself.

  • Two Cents

    Trump's only allies: Israel and Saudi Arabia

  • mollydtt

    Trump is not a friend. And, he is even more unpredictable than Europe thinks he is. He is unstable.

    He is not a good deal maker, too.

  • 40acre

    This was predictable. The schoolyard bully gets largely ignored or even ridiculed once all the kids become adults.

  • Paul Iannello

    hey ya think all that grease in his mop will help um float when he starts sinkin??

  • Tony Radcliffe-Hung

    I'll be so relieved when naked emperor Trump is finally out of office. I'll bet those who insist to pretend he has clothes will secretly be relieved too.

  • dynamited88

    Our state lost net jobs last month and mortgage rates are at a seven year high. I smell a recession coming in time for November election.

  • Tony Radcliffe-Hung

    "Unpredictability is in my opinion the last thing we need when you are friends." says our allies.
    One needs to go no further than common sense to know that is true. Trump is clueless.

  • Anna Mac

    'With friends like Trump, who needs enemies?'
    -EU leader Tusk
    Trump has no clue about how it actually isn't good for America to so casually throw away relationships with our historic allies.

  • Your Worst Nightmare

    "BREAKING: Trump says he doubts China trade negotiations will succeed"

    More proof the man is a fool and an incompetent. Why would he tweet something like this? I can't see any benefit to anyone by this foolish comment. He bungled the NK peace talks so it is no surprise he is capable of bungling this as well.

  • Arkansaw

    Donald has been bragging about the strength of our economy, all the while stabbing it in the back.

  • felix_navidad

    It seems people don't like being threatened. Who knew?