Members of the European Union Parliament criticize “America first” policy

US decision to quit key international deals and start trade war harms EU-US ties, but EU should not give up on transatlantic bond, said committee MEPs on Thursday.

In a resolution on the state of EU-US relations, approved by 35 votes to 4, with 2 abstentions, Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs stress that the EU-US relationship is the fundamental guarantor for global stability, but regret that the US administration has chosen a one-sided “America first” policy, that harms the interests of both the EU and the US and undermines mutual trust.

They seek more clarity on whether the transatlantic bond still stands for American partners, since the election of US President Trump, as MEPs find it difficult to understand the new approaches taken by the US on global issues and regional conflicts. “Unilateral moves only weaken the transatlantic partnership,” the resolution says.

Regret US decision to disengage

MEPs stress that the recent US decision to quit key international agreements, commitments and forums put at risk common values and the EU-US partnership. They criticise President Trump’s decision to leave the Paris climate agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, and to put extraterritorial measures on EU companies in Iran.

Trade disputes should be settled at WTO

MEPs regret the uncertainty in the international trading system caused by recent US decisions, based on policy tools used before the creation of the WTO and its dispute settlement system. They note that the US decision to impose steel and aluminium tariffs cannot be justified on the grounds of national security and call on the US to lift them.

The EU stands ready to work with the United States on trade related issues within the rules of the multilateral trading system, says the text, adding that the WTO is the best place to settle these disputes. 

MEPs also believe that a potential new EU-US deal on trade and investment cannot be negotiated under pressure, nor under threat, and call on “the Commission to resume negotiations with the US under the right circumstances”.

Fostering partnership

Despite tense relations, committee MEPs still believe it is essential to foster the EU-US partnership in promoting common values, rights and compliance with international law, as other major world powers, such as Russia and China, have robust political and economic strategies, which go against these values. MEPs also suggest enhancing the EU-US cooperation on cybersecurity, cyber defence, counter-terrorism, energy and migration, amongst others, and to set up a Transatlantic Political Council, led by the EU diplomatic chief and US Secretary of State, to regularly consult on foreign and security policy.

Quotes

Foreign affairs committee rapporteur Mr. Elmar Brok (EPP, DE) said: “Despite the challenges and new political and economic climate under US President Trump, the transatlantic relationship should not be put in jeopardy. Without compromising the EU’s values, we should try and find a common basis between the EU and US, so that a global balance is not disturbed. Neither the US nor the EU would profit from that and our western values would be put even more in danger. ”

International trade committee rapporteur Mr. Bernd Lange (S&D, DE) added: “We have made clear that there will be no dirty deals under pressure. If the US insists on pursuing a protectionist and nationalist course, we will not stand by idly, but make full use of the instruments the WTO offers. A positive trade agenda with the US is possible, but that requires the willingness to cooperate on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Next steps

The full House is set to vote on the draft resolution at the September plenary session in Strasbourg.

Compliments of the European Parliament