European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he is “not overly optimistic” that a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump later today will defuse the transatlantic trade spat.
Juncker told German public broadcaster ZDF in an interview recorded late Tuesday in Washington that he would be “making clear here that we are not the enemies of the United States. We have a common history, we must not forget it.” But he added that “Im not overly optimistic.”
The Commission president said he knows Trump “relatively well,” having met him many times. “I know how to deal with him, I also know how he deals with others,” Juncker said. “So well negotiate on an equal footing.”
Juncker said he would discuss tariffs with Trump. “I believe that we must avoid a trade war. I believe that we do not need additional increases in tariffs, but that we need a calming of the overall situation,” he said. In that sense, “it is also possible that Mr. Trump has something to offer us,” Juncker added.
Asked about Trumps threat to slap a 20 percent tax on car imports, Juncker reiterated Brussels was “ready” to take countermeasures and “able to immediately respond in an adequate way.”
Juncker said: “Were not in the dock here. In this respect, we do not need to defend ourselves. We are here to explain ourselves and to explore ways to avoid a trade war.”