12.03.2018 | How Juncker sparked the US-EU trade war: watch moment he threatened to break up the USA
Source - The Daily Express
Exactly one year ago Jean-Claude Juncker threatened to break up the US - an outrageous threat which it appears Donald Trump has not forgotten.
The President of the European Commission said he would push for Ohio and Texas to split from the rest of the US unless the president changed his tune and became more supportive of the EU.
Mr Juncker had made his bizarre threat, which a backtracking spokesman later said was not meant to be taken seriously, in response to Mr Trump’s positive comments on Brexit.
Mr Trump famously called himself “Mr Brexit” and predicted the shock Leave victory in June 2016. He arrived in Scotland, which voted Remain, soon after the result and claimed the “place is going wild… they took their country back”.
The EU did not take well to these comments and warned Mr Trump to mind his own business or face the break-up of his own union.
Mr Juncker said in March 2017: “Brexit isn’t the end. A lot of people would like it that way, even people on another continent where the newly elected US President was happy that the Brexit was taking place and has asked other countries to do the same.
“If he goes on like that I am going to promote the independence of Ohio and Austin, Texas in the US.”
A spokesman was later drafted in to firefight as Mr Juncker’s comments, which were delivered in a serious manner, drew a furious response.
Spokesman Alexander Winterstein said: “You will have seen that this is not the first time the President draws this analogy and I think he’s making a point that is as simple as it is valid.
"He does not suggest that certain states should secede from the United States and at the same time I think he considers it also not terribly appropriate for other heads of states to suggest that member states of the EU leave the EU. So I think that’s the comparison that he’s drawing."
One year on and the EU is now scrambling for exemptions from the metal import tariffs announced by Mr Trump last week.
Europe’s trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom described talks with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer as “frank” and said they had not brought clarity on the exemption procedure. Talks would continue next week.
Ms Malmstrom tweeted yesterday: “As a close security and trade partner of the US, the EU must be excluded from the announced measures.”
The European Commission said it is ready to impose safeguards, tariffs or quotas to protect its own steel and aluminium industries from products diverted to Europe because of the US measures.
The EU is also maintaining a threat of counter-measures that would target US imports ranging from maize to motorcycles and may publish its list next week to allow industry and other interested parties to give their input.
Under World Trade Organisation rules, such counter-measures have to be in place within 90 days of the US tariffs entering force.