European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and his American counterpart meeting in Brussels seemed to be in a holding pattern.
One problem is that Lamy’s mandate has less than two weeks left to run, and Zoelick’s masters are awaiting the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. Earlier this month, Washington filed a case at the World Trade Organisation, complaining about state aid for aircraft manufacturer Airbus. Brussels hit back with its own case, over what it called “massive illegal” aid for Boeing. Washington wants to renegotiate a more than decade-old pact with the EU, which limits aircraft subsidies, to rule out any support in the future. Lamy says the illegal U.S. subsidies, especially those for Boeing’s new 7E7 programme, damage Airbus. Europe argues that Airbus’s more than 50 percent share of the civil aircraft market is due to competitiveness and not unfair subsidies.