US sanctions against EU products: Agriculture MEPs want Dombrovskis to act 

Press Releases 
 
 
  • EU Commission must intervene directly to ease pressure on EU farmers 
  • EU should seize the momentum in Washington to de-escalate dispute 
  • Moratorium on sanctions to be negotiated with President Biden 

The EU must immediately launch negotiations with the new US administration to call a truce in the Airbus/Boeing dispute and avoid further sanctions that damage EU farmers.

In a letter addressed on Wednesday to the EU’s Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, the Chair of the EP’s Agriculture Committee Norbert Lins (EPP, DE) and the majority of political groups in the committee call on the European Commission “to intervene directly” in the Airbus/Boeing dispute as sanctions stemming from it are “causing severe damage to numerous European agricultural sectors”.

“I would like to express our serious concern. A conflict arising in the aeronautical field is gravely impacting agricultural communities across Europe, which are already struggling with the dire impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. The conflict and the retaliatory tariffs have been escalating since October 2019. The latest tariffs introduced on 12 January will further aggravate the economic situation”, reads the letter.

Mr Lins insists that “it is time for the [EU Commission] to seize on the new momentum in Washington”, referring to the change at the White House. He believes that with the incoming Biden administration, “diplomacy can prevail and de-escalation be achieved”.

“The US and the EU are historic allies and our vocation is to trade with each other. Therefore, we call on [Vice-President Dombrovskis] to negotiate with President Biden’s administration a moratorium on sanctions on both sides of the Atlantic which would allow negotiators to find an effective and long-lasting solution to this dispute”, Agriculture MEPs write in the letter.

“It is crucial to establish a truce as soon as possible”, Mr Lins insists, as “the absence of a moratorium would further jeopardise our agricultural producers and traders”.

Agriculture Committee Chair also expressed “regret that no additional financial support has yet been adopted to compensate for the losses suffered by the agri-food sectors as a result of the trade dispute.” He wants “a compensatory fund” to “be introduced as it was decided some years ago following the Russian embargo”.

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. In October 2019, the US imposed retaliatory duties that affect EU exports worth $7.5 billion. These new US tariffs were levied on a large number of agricultural products such as French wine, Italian cheese and Spanish olive oil. MEPs responded by insisting that EU support should be given swiftly to food producers penalised by this ruling.

The EU won a parallel case brought against American aircraft maker Boeing, and the WTO ruled in October 2020 that the EU can retaliate by raising tariffs up to $4 billion worth of imports from the US. However, the US government decided just before the end of 2020 to impose additional tariffs on EU agri-food products in the framework of this dispute, targeting mainly French and German non-sparkling wines and spirits.