Brussels scratches head over talk of US trade deal

AFP
January 24, 2020

BRUSSELS: The president of the European Commission was keen to reassure the billionaires´ retreat in Davos: a deal is in the works to head off fears of a trans-Atlantic trade war.But back in...

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BRUSSELS: The president of the European Commission was keen to reassure the billionaires´ retreat in Davos: a deal is in the works to head off fears of a trans-Atlantic trade war.

But back in the EU capital Brussels on Thursday, Ursula von der Leyen´s promise of some kind of agreement "in a few weeks" left officials scratching their heads. "I can´t understand it, to be honest," German MEP Bernd Lange, who chairs the European Parliament´s trade committee, told AFP. "I spoke yesterday to some commission high-level staff and there was also no understanding of this speech."

Several sources at the European Council, which represents EU member states, also admitted that they were perplexed. And no member state diplomat consulted by AFP had been forewarned of any deal by the Commission. "She speaks only for herself," one declared.

One said Von der Leyen´s Davos visit had not been discussed at the regular EU ambassadors´ meeting, but that trade commissioner Phil Hogan´s less positive trip to Washington had come up. "Unfortunately, no one knows anything," said a diplomat from an important EU power, keenly aware of US President Donald Trump´s threats to impose harsh trade tariffs. "There´s a plan to put in place a new packet of measures to make peace, but no one knows what´s in it."



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