Photographer: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

EU to Reject Trump’s Protectionism at Summit, Draft Shows

  • Leaders will pledge commitment to international free trade
  • Government chiefs will also oppose financial-rules rollback

European Union leaders will seek to distance themselves from President Donald Trump’s views on trade and looser financial regulation when they hold a summit next week as they set out their vision ahead of crucial elections in the coming months.

“The EU remains strongly committed to a robust trade policy in an open and rules-based multilateral trading system,” leaders will say, according to a draft version of the March 9 summit’s conclusions obtained by Bloomberg News. Their stance comes at a time “when protectionist tendencies are reappearing,” according to the draft.

With Trump’s “America First” economic policy and his pledge to unwind banking safeguards put in place by Barack Obama since the 2008 financial meltdown, the EU is seeking to reaffirm what it stands for ahead of votes in the Netherlands this month and in France and Germany later in the year. The leaders also are trying to counter a wave of anti-globalism surging in Europe.

The bloc’s 28 leaders will discuss their trade stance as negotiations over the proposed Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, have hit a dead end. They will say that the EU will “continue to engage actively with international trade partners,” according to the draft document, which is subject to revision before and during the summit in Brussels.

‘High Tariffs’

During his first address to Congress on Tuesday, Trump fell back on his familiar complaints that other countries charge “very high tariffs and taxes” and put U.S. products at a disadvantage.

On banking regulation, EU leaders will stress “the importance of international cooperation on the design of common prudential and supervisory standards for financial services,” according to the document.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May will attend the summit before leaving the EU’s 27 other leaders to discuss the future of the bloc on March 10.

In a speech in Berlin on Wednesday, U.K. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said Europe should not create new trade barriers and should strive to minimize disruption for business and investors.

‘Economically Dangerous’

“Any new impediments to trade and investment in Europe would not only be politically irresponsible, but economically dangerous -- and not just for Europe but for the wider global economy,” Fox told the SuperReturn private-equity conference.

The summit, during which leaders have to decide whether to re-elect Donald Tusk as EU president for a second period of two and a half years, will also give leaders the opportunity to reiterate their support for countries in the Western Balkans, which are not in the bloc.

Those nations face many difficulties, including “Russian interference and disinformation campaigns,” according to the draft.

— With assistance by Alexander Weber, Tim Ross, Lynnley Browning, and John Voskuhl

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