Saturday

29th Apr 2017

US mocks European fury over Iraq reconstruction contracts

  • US President George Bush laughed off European legal threats (Photo: EU Commission)

The rhetoric was sharpened in the new transatlantic political and legal spat yesterday - just days after a trade war over steel was averted.

There was sharp criticism of the US government's decision to award lucrative Iraqi reconstruction contracts to only those countries with troops in the country from the European Commission and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

A spokesman for the European Commission said that contracts should be awarded on the basis of international law and World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. He added, "we don't need another trade conflict".

Mr Schröder said, after a meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, "international law must apply here. It does not help to look backwards".

For his part, Mr Annan described the decision as "unfortunate". France, China and Russia also criticised the move.

Bush laughs off legal threats

But US President, George W Bush laughed off European threats of legal action. When asked about the comments, he joked, "international law? Well, I'd better call my lawyer".

The President strongly defended his decision, saying, "it's very simple: our people risked their lives, the people of the friendly coalition risked their lives and the contracts will reflect that".

However, he is keen to keep the "lines of communication open".

He telephoned the leaders of France, Germany and Russia to announce that he was sending a special envoy - James Baker - next week to discuss the restructuring of Iraqi debt.

Encouragement, not punishment

Washington says that the list of eligible countries is an encouragement to join the coalition, rather than as a retrospective punishment for countries who refused to join in the US-led assault on Iraq.

As for legal action under WTO rules, it is unclear how successful a European appeal might be. Experts pointed out yesterday that Iraq is not a member of the WTO and therefore any challenge would be difficult.

In addition, WTO rules do allow discrimination on the grounds of national security, which the US invoked yesterday when making the announcement.

The contracts are worth $18.6 billion.

European firms miss out in Iraq

The EU wants more information about a decision not to award opponents of the US led war against Iraq reconstruction contracts, Brussels is dangling the threat of legal action.

Mob storms Macedonian parliament

A nationalist mob violently stormed parliament in Macedonia on Thursday, amid EU concern on police conduct during the attack.

Dont expect 'quick fix' in Syria, China tells EU

Beijing special envoy on the Syrian conflict said in Brussels that "imposing" a solution from the outside would "not be workable" and that the peace process will not be "smooth sailing".

Russia suspected of Macron hack

Likely Russian spies tried to steal email passwords from Macron's people the same way they hacked US elections, new study says.

Russia threat triggers European military spending hike

Russia's annexation of Crimea in Ukraine has intensified military and defence spending throughout much of Central Europe, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Mob storms Macedonian parliament

A nationalist mob violently stormed parliament in Macedonia on Thursday, amid EU concern on police conduct during the attack.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  2. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  3. One year later: EU right to open Internet still virtual
  4. Rethinking Europe's relationship with Turkey
  5. Mob storms Macedonian parliament
  6. MEPs retain secrecy on office spending
  7. May accuses EU-27 of 'lining up against Britain'
  8. Resurrected Renzi to regain leadership of Italy's ruling party