The Brief from Brussels: EU unites to protect businesses from US decisions on trade

The Brief from Brussels: EU unites to protect businesses from US decisions on trade
By Catherine Hardy with Euronews
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The Brief from Brussels - brought to you from the Bulgarian capital, Sofia.


Sandor Zsiros, Euronews:

"The Brief from Brussels checks in from the Bulgarian capital Sofia, where the EU's Western Balkans summit has been held. The main element of the discussion was how the Balkan countries could be brought closer to Europe. But there were talks also about the solution of the name discussion between Greece and FYROM Macedonia. And the EU leaders discussed the EU reaction after US president Donald Trump decided to pull out the US from the Iran nuclear deal."

Iran loomed large over the summit - EU leaders committed to saving the deal after Donald Trump pulled out. But the damage done to transatlantic ties was evident. Asked about Iran's unpredictablity, EU Council President Donald Tusk said:

"The real geopolitical problem is when you have not an unpredictable opponent or enemy, the problem is if your closest friend is unpredictable. It's not a joke now. This is essence of our problem today with our friends on the other side of the Atlantic."

The bloc announced it would united against Trump by putting in place so-called blocking measures to protect EU companies doing business with Iran from the US sanctions.

Another sore point between Washington and Brussels, the proposed steel and aluminium tariffs and the possible trade war. Juncker offered an olive branch.

"If Europe obtains an unlimited exemption from the proposed tariff measures, we are ready to engage in talks with our transatlantic partner. Under the condition the exemptions will be permanent, we are ready to discuss how to best improve reciprocal market access, notably for industrial products including cars," EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told the gathering.

And actually what they came to talk about...Tusk said the European Union is and will remain the most reliable partner of the entire Western Balkans. 

The Sofia declaration said:

"The EU and the Western Balkans partners acknowledge that results in fighting corruption and organised crime are essential for the region’s political and socio-economic transformation and also for regional stability and security, which are in the best interest of their citizens. The EU welcomes their commitment to take resolute action, in cooperation with the EU and with each other, against human trafficking, drug cultivation, and smuggling of human beings, drugs and arms."

There is a long way to go for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania, and FYROM.

On the last point: Greece said there was progress but no solution on the long-standing name dispute with FYR Macedonia.

The next time the EU leaders will be lining up for family photos will be in June, where they will also be dealing with migration, Brexit and what remains of the EU-US relationship.

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