The remarkably cordial tone between President Trump and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker during their White House meeting last week was in sharp contrast to the tough rhetoric Trump has resorted to when describing Europe in the past. Instead of referring to the EU as an economic “foe” or castigating the bloc for taking advantage of the United States, Trump agreed on a more positive agenda calling for “a new phase in the relationship between the U.S. and the EU”. But although the newfound rapport between Trump and the EU is a welcome respite from the current rot in the transatlantic relationship, it is unlikely to be a long-lasting feature as fundamental issues still divide Washington and Brussels.
In their joint statement, the two leaders agreed to work towards eliminating tariffs, non-tariff trade barriers and subsidies. The EU pledged to import more liquefied natural gas from the United States and at the ensuing press conference Juncker also suggested the EU might import more American soybeans to help offset losses from trade with China. In return, the Trump administration has agreed to abstain from imposing tariffs against European carmakers for now. Furthermore, the leaders committed to cooperate on reforming the WTO and setting up a working group to advance this joint agenda.