EU's efforts to save international trade

The danger of an imminent escalation of the trade dispute with the US seems to have been averted in the wake of the agreement reached between US President Trump and EU Commission President Juncker. But Trump's attacks will continue because they are justified, some commentators believe. And Europe must take care not to alienate Asia through its compromises with the US, others warn.

Open/close all quotes
Ziare (RO) /

US has good reasons for dispute

Trump was right to start the discussion about tariffs, writes political scientist Petrisor Peiu on news website Ziare:

“Trump is doing nothing but taking the growing frustration of the farmers, steelworkers and car industry employees and exploiting it. ... Otherwise how can he explain to US taxpayers that they must pay for the security of the ten million jobs in the European car industry, but the Europeans by contrast are demanding a tariff that is four times higher [than the US tariffs]? This is precisely what Europe is accusing Trump of: not being dumb enough to let himself be annoyed, criticised and made fun of by people who are happy enough to be protected by the American armed forces and are thriving thanks to their access to the US market, but then slam the door on American exports!”

Diena (LV) /

China almost as important

In the negotiations with the US the importance of trade with China must not be forgotten, warns Diena:

“Europe's problem lies in the fact that the role China plays in our economy is only marginally smaller than that of the US. Eastern Europe in particular is bound to China by a number of promising projects. Although Europe always had many objections to China's economic expansion, the idea of a trade war with China has never been taken seriously. Now there is the real danger that the price of avoiding a trade war with the US could be a trade war with China. We can only theorise about which of the two would be the lesser evil.”

Berlingske (DK) /

China should brace itself

The meeting between Juncker and Trump is good news for business on both sides of the Atlantic and a warning to China, Berlingske comments:

“It is very important that the signals about new trade barriers have been replaced by a statement of intent aimed at abolishing tariffs and barriers to trade. It is also vital to tackle the reform of the World Trade Organisation, among other things through an agreement on the theft of intellectual property. That sends a clear signal to countries like China and puts Europe and the US on the same side in the fight for free trade.”

Die Presse (AT) /

It's not the US that is blocking free trade

The EU and not the US is impeding free trade, Die Presse criticises:

“The discussions between Juncker and Trump not only brought about a de-escalation, they also showed clearly who is slowing down the process of removing trade barriers and who is not. Clearly, the Europeans are the ones slowing things down. Because while Trump is effectively ready to remove all tariff barriers, Juncker wants to limit this process to industrial goods for the time being. 'There is a chance that we'll be in a better position at the end than we were before the trade conflict,' said an optimistic Christian Helmenstein, Chief Economist of the Federation of Austrian Industries. But for that to happen Europe must find a common stance and not wear itself out with 'national particular interests'. In the internal struggle between the French farm lobby and the German car industry only the business location Europe stands to lose.”

Právo (CZ) /

Trump delivering a virtuoso performance

Právo comments almost with admiration that so far only the US benefits from the agreement and warns that Trump could turn the EU into a "useful idiot" in his trade war with China and that it's too soon for the Europeans to sigh with relief:

“So far only the US has secured advantages. Europe can only hope for the best. Its carmakers still have cause to be worried. If Trump can force China to make concessions, he'll have a free hand to settle scores with the EU. And he won't hesitate to do just that. In other words: instead of rejoicing at the results of Juncker's negotiations Europe should take care not to become a useful idiot for Trump in his struggle with China. Because if Trump can win on the Asian front, it won't be long before he takes the Europeans to task.” (HU) /

A major personal victory for Juncker

News website sees the announcement of plans for zero tariffs between the EU and the US as a bombshell in international trade relations:

“Agreements as important as this one usually take years to work out. For Jean-Claude Juncker, signing free trade agreements with other countries or groups of countries is one of the main objectives of his term in office. For the Commission President nothing seems to be more important, so this is a great personal victory for him. Naturally it has its price, but not one that can't be paid. Juncker has promised to work more closely with the US on energy, which means that Europe will buy more gas from the United States. When he travelled to Washington Junker's goal was to close a good deal. And that he has achieved.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

Why Trump has handed Juncker an olive branch

Trump has had to face up to the economic reality, Corriere del Ticino explains:

“American business analysts have already pointed out that the trade war recently declared by the resident of the White House will have negative repercussions, not only for businesses in Europe and around the world, but also for American firms, especially those in the automotive sector. Higher tariffs on steel and aluminium imports will lead to higher production costs, and consequently to reduced profits. That is no doubt why Trump preferred to hand Juncker an olive branch yesterday. Time will tell if this will really promote dialogue.”

Der Standard (AT) /

A reprieve for the EU and the global economy

The agreement in the trade dispute was a master stroke by Jean-Claude Juncker, Der Standard comments:

“Without making any real concessions the EU Commission President has dissuaded Donald Trump from introducing the new tariffs on European car imports he had been threatening for weeks. Instead, over the coming months and years the US and EU will negotiate the lowering of trade barriers - which is what companies wanted all along. ... It's unlikely that all the negotiations will lead to swift success. There are too many interested parties who will block the way. But that's not the point. The main thing is that the two sides are talking, not threatening each other. The EU and the global economy have bought some time. Trump can turn his attention to other enemies. How long this party truce will last only the US president knows.”

El País (ES) /

Trumpism is here to stay

El País warns that the EU can't rest on its laurels after the agreement in the trade dispute:

“The US is more than just Trump, although it's possible that the Trump phenomenon is not just temporary because it reflects a profound change in the United States, just as the rise of populism and nationalism in major European countries is an expression of a tectonic shift in the EU. Trumpism is here to stay. But before we give up on the transatlantic relationship we should assess the cost of its non-existence and reflect on what would take its place. ... Only a strong and united Europe capable of protecting its citizens can talk to Trump on equal terms and use its clout to save the transatlantic alliance.”

Delo (SI) /

He who laughs last

Delo takes a sceptical view of the agreement between Trump and Juncker, commenting that China is likely to be the big winner of the trade disputes in the long run:

“Some were happy, and believed that Trump was ushering in a new world order and the downfall of the 'big imperialist' - meaning the state, which had created the system of pre-arranged rules and defended globalisation and free trade for the past seven decades. Everyone is now reaching agreements behind Washington's back on how to save the system. And it seems that China, which bears most responsibility for the problems with international trade, has the upper hand.”