The European Union trade commissioner on Wednesday expressed frustration with the Trump administration’s argument that new steel and aluminum tariffs are needed to protect national security.
“We suspect that the U.S. move is effectively not based on security considerations but on an economic safeguard measure in disguise,” Trade Commission Cecilia Malmstrom told EU parliament, according to The Associated Press.
She said most EU nations work closely with the U.S. on security issues. As a result, she argued, those countries should not be subject to tariffs.
“We are very disappointed indeed that longstanding allies and security partners from Europe need to justify their exports of steel and aluminum and to prove that they are not a threat to U.S. security,” Malmstrom said.
Trump last week signed 10 percent tariffs on aluminum imports and 25 percent tariffs on imported steel, despite opposition from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and international leaders.
When signing the measure, Trump said he was “defending America’s national security,” and called the difficulties of the domestic steel industry “an assault on our country.”
Canada and Mexico are exempt from from the tariffs for now as they try to negotiate a larger trade agreement with the U.S. Other nations can negotiate for similar exemptions.
Those opposed to the tariffs warn the move could prompt a trade war, ultimately hurt U.S. workers and driving up prices.
Trump has brushed off those concerns, saying trade wars are “good and easy to win,” and “not so bad” in cases where the U.S. has a trade deficit.
The European Union has begun debating tariffs of its own on the U.S. in response, Malmstrom said on Twitter.
Debate this morning i EP plenary on US decision on trade and aluminium tariffs. Strong support from MEPs for the EUs approach to adopt WTO compatible measures if needed. @jyrkikatainen
— Cecilia Malmström (@MalmstromEU) March 14, 2018