The United States has fired the first warning shots at the EUs next trade commissioner before hes even taken office.
Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the EU, branded comments about Donald Trump from Commissioner Phil Hogan “unhelpful” and “very condescending.” Speaking to POLITICOs EU Confidential podcast, Sondland warned of the dangers of “someone handling the EU trade portfolio whose sole approach is belligerence.”
Hogan, the current European agriculture commissioner who is slated to take over the trade portfolio on November 1, told Irelands RTE radio last week he would do everything he could “to get Mr. Trump to see the error of his ways” on trade. The veteran Irish politician said he hopes the U.S. president will “abandon some of the reckless behavior that we have seen from him in relation to his relationship with China and describing the European Union as a security risk.”
Sondland said that “saying that youre going to teach President Trump how trade works … cannot be viewed as anything but a very condescending comment.”
Sondland said he expects any future EU trade commissioner to vigorously advocate on the blocs behalf but added: “I dont think you want someone handling the EU trade portfolio whose sole approach is belligerence, because that just results in an impasse, a stalemate and then people start to do things that you dont want them to do.”
Reminded that Trumps own rhetoric is often forceful, Sondland drew a distinction between language used by political leaders and what he said was more appropriate for ministers and negotiators.
Sondlands interview came just a day before major news broke on the trade transatlantic trade front — POLITICO reported that the World Trade Organization had ruled in favor of the U.S. and against the EU in a long-running dispute over subsidies to Airbus.
Asked for his reaction over the weekend, Sondland told POLITICO: “Ultimately, what the United States is seeking is an end to subsidies for Airbus and the recovery of damages. However, if negotiations between the U.S. and EU dont elicit a change in this behavior and a recovery of those damages, then the United States will suspend concessions and resort to tariffs. The president will ultimately make this decision, and he is prepared to act quickly if necessary.”