EU DIVIDED: Germany and France lock horns in desperate bid to halt US and Trump trade war
Berlin has presented a opposing views to France, Spain and the Netherlands of when or if to start negotiations with Donald Trump after the US President decided to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium exports to the EU, Express.co.uk has learnt.
Washington has granted EU producers a temporary exemption from the tariffs but that ends on June 1, leaving Brussels bosses debating amongst themselves the best way to approach the situation.
EU leaders met in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia during the bloc’s Western Balkans summit to attempt to find a unified stance on US trade.
However, one EU diplomat familiar with the talks between Brussels trade chief Cecilia Malmström and her American counterpart Wilbur Ross revealed Germany is pushing for negotiations to start on a tariff only trade deal.
This requires the unanimous backing of the European Council’s entire membership, including the UK, before it can be agreed.
The EU diplomat said: “There’s one member state that’s very keen on this, Germany, then there are 27 others.”
While the European Commission does not need a mandate to start talks, many see it unwise to proceed without a clear vision for a future agreement.
But many member states are also “sceptical” of holding talks with Mr Trump at all.
An EU source said: “There are still some member states that have some real doubts about the desirability or wisdom of this whole exercise.
“We are sceptical on the wisdom of starting a negotiation with an administration we don’t think will be very interested in finding good outcomes for both sides.
“We have some question marks on the viability of this project and are we doing this for the right reasons.”
Germany are after a quick fix to the US trade dilemma while other member states are keen to find a long-term solution, they added.
The source adds: “For Berlin this is a quick way out of a dilemma.
“For Paris it's we have to think a little big long-term where do we want to go with this administration and where do we want to channel our energy and resources.”