Iran, Gaza, Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs on the menu at EU leaders’ dinner in Sofia

At a dinner in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia on May 16, European Union leaders will discuss recent global developments including US President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, the recent violence in Gaza and Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminium.

This emerges from a letter to EU leaders from European Council President Donald Tusk.

Tusk said that he would ask three leaders who are signatories to the Iran nuclear deal – UK Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkelt and French President Emanuel Macron – to present their assessment of the situation following the US withdrawal.

“I would like our debate to reconfirm without any doubt that as long as Iran respects the provisions of the deal, the EU will also respect it,” Tusk said.

“This is the line already discussed by our foreign ministers and presented by the United Kingdom, Germany and France, who are working hard to sustain the deal,” he said.

He said that the EU leaders should also get an update from EU foreigh policy chief Federica Mogherini, while European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will “share his thoughts on how the interests of the European companies engaged in economic cooperation with Iran can be best preserved”.

Juncker is also to speak on the state of play regarding the US trade measures.

“As we know, the US tariffs on steel and aluminium cannot be justified on the grounds of national security,” Tusk said.

“This is why we agreed in March to call for the permanent exemption of the EU from these tariffs and strongly supported the steps taken by the European Commission to ensure that the interests of the EU are fully protected.”

Tusk said that this includes the possibility to respond to the US measures “as appropriate and in a proportionate manner,” in compliance with the World Trade Organisation rules.

“While recalling the European commitment to strong transatlantic relations as a cornerstone of the security and prosperity of both the United States and the European Union, we also underlined our support for dialogue on trade issues of common concern.”

Tusk said that at the May 16 dinner, “I will propose we stick to our guns”.

“Our renewed and full support for the European Commission will strengthen its position in the negotiations with the US. This is the only way to protect European interests.

“It is clear that it is not the EU that is putting transatlantic trade relations at risk. But we need to be sure that we have done everything in our power, and within the limits of the international trade rules, to avoid a negative scenario,” Tusk said.

Bulgaria, currently holder of the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU, is hosting the informal working dinner of EU leaders on the eve of the May 17 EU-Western Balkans summit in Sofia.

(Photo, of the table set for the dinner at Sofia Tech Park: Bulgarian EU Presidency)



The Sofia Globe staff

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