What Happened: EU member states agreed April 15 to begin formal trade talks with the United States after approving negotiation mandates for the European Commission by a qualified majority, Deutsche Welle reported. The mandates include cutting tariffs on industrial goods and simplifying common product standards. France, however, voted against the authorization, while Belgium abstained.
Why It Matters: Although the European Commission has now received its mandate to start trade negotiations with the United States, the process will likely be contentious as Brussels will insist on focusing on industrial goods and non-tariff barriers, whereas Washington will likely push to include agriculture, which is something France and other countries have opposed.
Background: The United States has been pressuring European countries to commence formal trade negotiations by threatening to impose automobile tariffs, which would especially threaten Germany's export-driven car industry.
- Why a Global Economic Downshift, No Matter How Small, Matters (Jan. 24, 2019)
- U.S., EU: Trade Negotiations Are Headed for High Hurdles (Jan. 18, 2019)
- For Trump's Auto Tariff Threats, Credibility Is the Name of the Game (Nov. 15, 2018)