The European Commission said on Wednesday (11 July) that “all possible options” are on the table to respond to the confirmation of the US tariffs on Spanish ripe olives, seen by Europeans as unjustified.
A Commission spokesperson told EURACTIV that the EU executive is waiting to see the publication of the decision, expected to be released on 24 July, in order to “carefully analyse” it.
Based on the analysis, the EU executive will consider “all possible options” in reaction to these measures, the official added.
The Commission wants to study the legal reasoning and technical details of the decision to decide what to do.
The European response could include tariffs on US exports to the European market, as member states did in response to US duties on steel and aluminium.
On Tuesday, the US International Trade Commission concluded that the American market was harmed by Spanish ‘black’ olives, arguing they were subsidised by the Common Agricultural Policy, the EU’s programme to support farmers.
Following this announcement, a 34.75% duty fixed by the US Department of Commerce last month will become definitive.
“The Commission deplores this US approach and in particular the way in which the investigation was conducted,” the spokesperson said.
“These protectionist measures are not justified, neither on process nor on substance”, he added.
EU farmers’ organisation Copa and Cogeca also deplored the US move.
“We are very disappointed about the way in which this trade dispute is escalating. It will be detrimental to farmers on both sides of the Atlantic and will also deprive USA consumers of quality Spanish produce,” said its secretary-general Pekka Pesonen and urged the Commission to take action in the World Trade Organisation.
The Commission insists that the exports of these olives to the US are non-subsidised but rather they are a high-quality product, “popular with US consumers”.
The institution also denies any damage to US producers.
The confirmation of the tariffs came in the midst of an escalation in the trade war between the Trump Administration and Europe.
The dispute between the two sides opened a new front on Wednesday morning as Trump went after Germany for investing in the controversial pipeline Nord Stream 2 during the opening of a NATO summit in Brussels, expected to be very tense.
Last month, EU leaders said Europe would respond to all protectionist actions from Washington, “including those calling into question the Common Agricultural Policy”.
This veiled reference to the dispute over the black olives was requested by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
The Commission spokesperson recalled that the executive “has been vigorously defending the interests of the EU olive producers” in cooperation with the Spanish authorities.