Wednesday

25th May 2022

EU wary of US protectionism threat

  • The US Senate is currently debating the bill (Photo: EUobserver)

The EU is watching closely to see whether a "Buy American" provision relating to steel will make it into the final version of the US stimulus plan bill to be signed by Barack Obama, fearing it will affect European exports.

The provision forcing contractors to use only US-made steel in development projects funded by the proposed $825 billion (€630 billion) stimulus plan is contained in a version approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday (28 January). The Senate is currently debating the bill.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Speaking at a daily press briefing on Thursday, spokesperson Peter Powell said trade commissioner Catherine Ashton was monitoring the situation.

"We are looking into the situation. ...Before we have the final text ...it would be premature to take a stance on it," he said.

"However, the one thing we can be absolutely certain about, is if a bill is passed which prohibits the sale or purchase of European goods on American territory, that is something we will not stand idly by and ignore," he continued.

Under the current proposal, foreign steel can only be used for infrastructure projects funded by the stimulus plan if the head of a federal department decides that using solely US steel would increase costs by more than 25 percent.

The European Confederation of Iron and Steel Industries, Eurofer, demanded that the EU contest the provision in the World Trade Organization, saying it was clearly in breach of current trade rules.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, WTO chief Pascal Lamy said he was concerned that countries would increasingly turn to protectionist measures during the economic downturn.

"It is natural in such a crisis that there is a big call for protection. But that does not mean there should be protectionism," he said.

He also urged world leaders to use April's G20 meeting in London to help conclude the Doha round of trade talks.

Fears of increasing protectionism in the face of the global crisis have also been raised elsewhere.

Earlier this week, a group of 19 states - known as the Cairns Group - criticised the EU for its recent decision to re-start export subsidies on dairy products.

"This is not the leadership we require from key economies at this point in time," said the group, which includes Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Africa and Indonesia.

The EU dairy sector is currently facing severe difficulties due to plummeting milk prices.

Agriculture commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel, warned last week that many EU farmers were facing bankruptcy.

EU Commission extends borrowing curbs in 2023

The European Commission on Monday proposed to extend suspension of fiscal borrowing rule in 2023 — but advised prudence amid already rising real interest rates.

Commission grilled on RePowerEU €210bn pricetag

EU leaders unveiled a €210bn strategy aiming to cut Russian gas out of the European energy equation before 2027 and by two-thirds before the end of the year — but questions remain on how it is to be financed.

MEPs raise ambition on EU carbon market reform

MEPs on the environment committee agreed on reform of the European carbon market — including expanding it to buildings and transport. They also want to extend the scope of the carbon border tax, and phase out free permits by 2030.

EU countries rush to expand gas import capacity

EU plans to quit Russian gas and replace it, in part, by importing overseas liquified natural gas has lead to a flurry of new gas projects — which threaten to lock in unnecessary gas use for decades.

Russia's war stifles EU pandemic recovery

The impact of Russia's war in Ukraine is being felt throughout the EU and the eurozone. The European Commission has downgraded its economic forecast to 2.7-percent growth this year.

Commission grilled on RePowerEU €210bn pricetag

EU leaders unveiled a €210bn strategy aiming to cut Russian gas out of the European energy equation before 2027 and by two-thirds before the end of the year — but questions remain on how it is to be financed.

News in Brief

  1. France 'convinced' Ukraine will join EU
  2. Von der Leyen: Russia hoarding food as 'blackmail'
  3. Legal action launched against KLM over 'greenwashing'
  4. Orbán refuses to discuss Russia oil embargo at EU summit
  5. Turkey's Erdogan snubs Greek PM
  6. ECB: Crypto may pose a risk to financial stability
  7. UK PM Johnson faces renewed questions over Covid party
  8. Sweden gives 5th Covid shot to people over 65, pregnant women

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  2. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June
  3. 'No progress in years' in Libya, says UN migration body
  4. Toxic pesticide residue in EU fruit up 53% in a decade
  5. Orbán's overtures to Moscow are distasteful and detrimental
  6. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is back
  7. EU aims to seize Russian assets amid legal unclarity
  8. Close ties with autocrats means security risk, Nato chief warns

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us