Top EU official quits US meeting as trade tensions persist



London/Paris
CNN Business

Efforts to resolve a simmering dispute between Europe and the United States over electric vehicle subsidies stemming from President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act suffered a blow Friday when a top EU official pulled out of talks scheduled for Monday.

Thierry Breton, the official responsible for the EU’s vast internal market, will not participate in a meeting of the EU-US Trade and Tech Council because not enough time has been scheduled to discuss EU concerns, a close aide told CNN on Friday. The source spoke on condition of anonymity, citing local professional norms.

The United States and the European Union established the council in June last year as a forum for discussing new technology and trade.

“[Monday’s agenda] no longer gives sufficient space to issues of concern to many European industry ministers and businesses,” the aide said. “With the Inflation Reduction Act being informally discussed only over a 45-minute lunch, the commissioner has decided not to participate,” the aide added.

The Inflation Reduction Act has become an acute source of tension between the allies. The sweeping $750 billion health care, tax and climate bill, which became law in August, includes billions of dollars in subsidies for electric vehicles made in North America.

Europe fears that generous tax breaks for US-made parts will put its companies at a disadvantage.

There had been some signs of progress in resolving the impasse Thursday when Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron held a summit in Washington.

Speaking at a joint press conference after the meeting, Macron said that he and Biden had “an excellent discussion on the IRA” and “agreed to resynchronize [their] approaches” towards investment in critical industries.

The European Union and the United States share the biggest “bilateral trade and investment relationship” in the world, according to the European Commission’s website.

Transatlantic trade hit a record €1.2 trillion ($1.26 trillion) in 2021, the Commission said.

Paul LeBlanc contributed reporting.



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