EU to block US attempts to cut bilateral trade deals with members

Jean-Claude Juncker [European Commission]

The head of the European Commission accused the US government on Wednesday (31 May) of seeking bilateral trade deals with individual member states and said he would block any such attempt to break the bloc’s unified position on trade.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the Americans were adopting a “cold shoulder” towards the Commission which negotiates trade on behalf of the whole bloc.

“They say: ‘We do not want to negotiate with you as a European Union but with each member state separately,'” Juncker stated.

Indeed, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Donald Trump in March, a senior German politician was quoted as saying that the US president repeatedly asked her about signing a bilateral trade deal. She reportedly told him that Germany was part of the EU single market and consequently, such an accord could only be negotiated by the Union.

Back home after icy Trump meeting, Merkel calls for open markets

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued a staunch joint defence of free trade yesterday (19 March), as the United States pushes towards greater protectionism.

“We cannot allow individual (trade) agreements between the Americans and individual European countries to take place,” Juncker said.

The Commission President said he had told Trump of his concerns about Washington’s protectionist stance on trade.

“I don’t think it’s good that there is a picture evolving where, in the future, we would do more with China than with the United States,” Juncker said.

“That’s the wrong direction, I think. But I cannot prevent this from happening.”

“We have explained to Mr Trump that it is not good for the US to withdraw from international economic life. But he wants to do this. I’m against it, but he does not care at all.”

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