EU summit to underline European commitment to free trade

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EU leaders are to pledge their continued commitment to free trade and opposition to protectionism at an upcoming summit.

European Union leaders are to reaffirm their strong commitment to furthering a global agenda of liberalized trade at a summit scheduled for later this month.

The leaders of the 28 current EU nations will issue a statement during the conference in Sweden on June 22nd and 23rd that will underline the continued importance of cross-border collaboration on issues such as free trade and climate change.

Bloomberg has obtained a draft of the statement, which will be widely interpreted as a rebuff to US president Donald Trump's aggressive, protectionist approach to trade negotiation, as well as his controversial decision to pull the US out of the Paris climate accord.

The draft conclusions state: "The EU is strongly committed to free, fair and mutually beneficial trade and investment. The EU will keep its markets open and fight protectionism by pushing for the removal of all trade-distorting practices."

German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble subsequently told Bloomberg that while a close cooperation with the US is always preferable, this will not always be possible if the US does not share the same intention.

This also comes after German chancellor Angela Merkel used a speech last month to criticize the Trump administration's trade policies, saying that "a whole series of protectionist tendencies" are emerging worldwide, while emphasizing the importance of openness when trying to achieve fair trade conditions.

These pronouncements from the EU are likely to have been informed in part by the negative sentiment surrounding President Trump's visit to Europe in May, which was seen to be damaging to US-EU relations due to the Republican leader's belligerent approach and refusal to support key international commitments on defense, trade and immigration.