Brussels insisted today it had already drawn up countermeasures to hit back against steel tariffs from U.S. President Donald Trump and that commissioners would discuss them on Wednesday.
“The Commission has countermeasures ready against the U.S. to rebalance the situation and this is something which the College is going to discuss next week,” spokesman Alexander Winterstein said.
France and Germany are in contact with Brussels and say the EU has prepared measures to punch back quickly, but are waiting to see whether Trump follows through on his announcement, two officials said. The EU would wait for confirmation “because of the way the White House works right now,” one of them added.
The retaliation would likely hit products from politically sensitive Republican-run states such as Harley-Davidson motorbikes from Wisconsin, orange juice from Florida and whiskey from Kentucky, home state of the Senate majority leader.
Officials said there were ways to roll out the measures without first running through a lengthy gauntlet of World Trade Organization dispute settlement procedures. This could involve treating America’s action as a “safeguard measure” warranting an immediate response.
The EU also stands ready to sue Washington at the WTO: “We are going to work closely with our other partners to seek dispute settlement consultations with the U.S. in the WTO.”