The EU and US decided to end a 17-year-long dispute over Airbus-Boeing aircraft subsidies, and return to excellent trade relations, the top EU official said on Tuesday.
The EU-US summit in Brussels managed to put an end to the longest trade dispute in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) history, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, told journalists after meeting US President Joe Biden.
Biden was co-hosted by von der Leyen and President of the European Council Charles Michel.
“This meeting started with a breakthrough on aircrafts,” von der Leyen said, referring to the trade dispute between the US and the EU on civilian aircraft with the application of punitive tariffs to protect Boeing and Airbus companies.
“The agreement we have found now really opens a new chapter in our relationship because we move from litigation to cooperation on aircraft after almost 20 years of dispute which is the longest trade dispute in the history of WTO,” she added.
Holding separate talks, the European Commission’s Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai reached an understanding to end the dispute and suspend the tariffs affecting in total a value of $11.5 billion of trade and resulting in $3.3 billion of extra duties for US and EU companies.
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said during a video call: "Today’s announcement resolves a longstanding trade irritant in the US-Europe relationship."
"Instead of fighting with one of our closest allies, we are finally coming together against a common threat," she added, pointing fingers to China.
As the EU and US work on bolstering the transatlantic ties, they both try to counter China's increasing global economic influence, and resolving the Boeing-Airbus dispute that involved subsidies and government support programs, which is seen as a major step.
The two sides of the Atlantic, however, still have reciprocal tariffs on goods, such as steel and aluminum, imposed on one another since the former President Donald Trump era, and they still need to resolve how to tax big tech companies.
Fight against COVID-19, climate change
Biden and the two EU top officials also discussed several topics, ranging from fighting the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change.
The leaders agreed that the US and EU would contribute significantly to vaccinate two-thirds of the world’s population by the end of 2022 through boosting exports, donations, and manufacturing capacities, Michel explained.
“We must deliver on this,” he noted.
They also decided to work on reforming the World Health Organization (WHO).
“We know that WHO needs stronger capacities for the detection of outbreaks, for example of COVID-19, the early notification, the early warning system, to really speak of preparedness and appropriate response,” von der Leyen said, stressing that “we learned our lessons from the past, we know that we lost time at the beginning of the pandemic.”
“The European Union and the US, our natural partner in the fight for our planet's future, and science tells us very clearly that we have to hurry up, we need to do more,” she said on another main topic of the agenda.
To assume world leadership, the EU and US will set up a high-level action group to deal with climate issues.
Message to Russia
Asked if they discussed the relations with Russia ahead of Biden's upcoming meeting with President Vladimir Putin, von der Leyen said: “EU-Russia relationship is on a negative spiral, this is what we conveyed to President Biden.”
“With the US and some to other like-minded partners, it is important not only to react when we face authoritarian regimes trying to put pressure on us,” Michel noted, adding that they worked on “a pro-active strategy to promote our values and to defend our interests.”
Biden and Putin will meet in Geneva tomorrow.