The European Commission has approved the introduction of new duties on US products as part of its retaliation against President Donald Trump's recent introduction of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
The controversial US tariffs were announced in March, but the EU - along with Canada and Mexico - had been exempt from the duties until the end of May, at which point the US announced that these exemptions would not be renewed. This has led to global market instability and a strident response from the leaders of the affected nations.
It is expected that the US duties will affect EU exports worth €6.4 billion, prompting Europe's College of Commissioners to approve the immediate imposition of tit-for-tat levies covering €2.8 billion of this total.
The rebalancing of the remaining €3.6 billion will take place at a later stage - either in three years' time, or sooner if the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules in the EU's favor in the dispute proceedings that Europe launched against the US on June 1st.
These new levies come as part of a three-pronged response by the European Commission, which also includes the launch of the WTO legal process and the possible triggering of safeguard action to protect the European market from disruptions. The commission has nine months to decide whether such measures would be necessary, and a decision could be taken this summer if this is determined to be the case.
Additionally, the European Commission has implemented a new surveillance system for imports of aluminum to be prepared in case action is required in that sector. Efforts are also being made to engage with the US on other trade-related processes and the need to address root causes of current trade tensions, including China's trade distorting practices.
European commissioner for trade Cecilia Malmstrom said: "This is a measured and proportionate response to the unilateral and illegal decision taken by the US to impose tariffs on European steel and aluminium exports.
"What's more, the EU's reaction is fully in line with international trade law. We regret that the US left us with no other option than to safeguard EU interests."