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  • Back a unified EU response to new US tariffs 
  • Mobilise all existing tools and market instruments to help EU farmers 
  • Support campaigns promoting EU products abroad more actively 
  • Strive to find a negotiated solution with the US 

The EU must act swiftly to help EU farmers unduly affected by newly imposed US tariffs worth €6.8 billion, says Parliament on Thursday.

MEPs express deep concerns over the collateral damage borne by EU agriculture and food sector due to a dispute in an unrelated sector and deplore the US decision to impose increased duties on so many agricultural products. They also criticise the US lack of interest to work with the EU on resolving the long-standing Airbus/Boeing dispute.

Help hard-hit agricultural sectors

The EU must respond to new US tariffs in a coordinated and unified way, MEPs stress. As a first step, the EU Commission should closely monitor the market, use all existing tools, such as private storage, market withdrawals and instruments to deal with market disturbances, and mobilise rapid support for the sectors worst affected.

The EU’s executive should step up efforts to promote EU agricultural products abroad and make promotion-related funding rules more flexible to allow for EU campaigns in the US to be boosted or redirect them on alternative markets, MEPs say.

To help diversify EU export markets, all barriers that prevent exporters from fully using opportunities under EU trade agreements should be removed, MEPs insist. They reject any cuts to the EU’s farm policy budget and call for its crisis reserve to be reformed.

Parliament also urges the Commission to strive to find a negotiated solution to ease EU-US trade tensions.

Background

A World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling on Airbus subsidies gave the United States the right to levy tariffs on EU exports as retaliation for earlier, excessive EU subsidies given to the aircraft maker Airbus. The US levied up to 25 percent tariffs since 18 October 2019 on a large number of agricultural products such as French wine, Italian cheese and Spanish olive oil.

The EU won a parallel case brought against American aircraft maker Boeing, and the WTO ruling on the level of tariffs with which the EU can retaliate is expected in 2020.

The EU member states most affected by the WTO authorised tariffs are the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Ireland: they bear around 95% of the tariffs hitting farm exports worth €3.5 billion, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström told MEPs on Tuesday. The EU products most affected are those with a high added value and which are often protected under EU quality schemes, such as wines and spirits, olive oil and dairy products. Others include table olives, pork meat, coffee, sweet biscuits, processed fruit, citrus, mussels, liquors and cashmere, notes the adopted text.

The US is the number one destination of EU agricultural exports. In 2018, these exports reached €22.3 billion.