The European Commission announced that on 7 March 2018, the College of Commissioners discussed the EU’s response to the possible US import restrictions for steel and aluminium announced on 1 March. The EU stands ready to react proportionately and fully in line with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules in case the US measures are formalised and affect EU’s economic interests. The College gave its political endorsement to the proposal presented by President Jean-Claude Juncker, Vice-President Jyrki Katainen and Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström. Speaking after the College meeting, Commissioner Malmström said:
We still hope, as a USA security partner, that the EU would be excluded. We also hope to convince the US administration that this is not the right move. As no decision has been taken yet, no formal action has been taken by the European Union. But we have made clear that if a move like this is taken, it will hurt the European Union. It will put thousands of European jobs in jeopardy and it has to be met by firm and proportionate response. Unlike these proposed US duties, our three tracks of work are in line with our obligations in the WTO. They will be carried out by the book. The root cause of the problem in the steel and aluminium sector is global overcapacity. It is rooted in the fact that a lot of steel and aluminium production takes place under massive state subsidies, and under non-market conditions. This can only be addressed by cooperation, getting to the source of the problem and working together. What is clear is that turning inward is not the answer. Protectionism cannot be the answer, it never is.
The announcement said that the EU remains available to continue working on this together with the United States. The EU has been and remains a strong supporter of an open and rules-based global trade system.