Brussels and Washington bury the ax in the Boeing-Airbus war that has cost more than 10 billion in tariffs

Biden’s visit serves to agree to the suspension for five years of the oldest dispute within the WTO, which has cost more than 10 billion euros in tariffs.

Joe Biden is received by the president of the European council, Charles Michel, and the president of the commission, Ursula von der LeyenOLIVIER HOSLETEFE

Almost 17 years later, the European Union and the United States finally buried the ax this Tuesday in the tariff dispute between Boeing and Airbus. The visit to the Old Continent of the American President, Joe Biden, has been the chosen moment to formalize a truce of at least five years after a clash that has cost more than 10 billion euros to companies on both sides of the Atlantic. “This meeting has started with a very important step forward in area matter. This opens a completely new chapter in our relations, as we have been able to go from litigation to cooperation after 17 years of dispute, “said the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen today.

The idea is to suspend the tariffs that were being applied to each other (7.5 billion dollars from the US and almost 4,000 from the EU in response) with the approval but not the applause of the World Trade Organization. It will be for five years, to see how the situation evolves. A permanent aircraft working group will be created in parallel to address details and possible concrete disagreements.

Not so much or not only on the issues of the past, but on the future ones, as it seems clear that both parties will continue to support their industry, in one way or another. “”Both parties will now seek to overcome long-term differences to avoid future litigation. and preserve a level playing field between our aircraft manufacturers, and we will also work to prevent new differences from arising, “says the Commission.

It is not a full stop, but it can be the beginning of a change. The airline problem is the oldest, though not the only one. And it can serve to unblock the rest of the reciprocal penalties, which worsened notably during the years of Donald Trump.

Traditional suspension

In March, while the details of the negotiation and the visit were being finalized, Washington and Brussels agreed to a provisional suspension of four months, which will now be extended until at least 2026, but with the intention of making it final. “Good news, we have an agreement, “said Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis.

“We have reached an understanding to resolve the dispute between Airbus and Boeing. That shows that the transatlantic relationship is moving to another level. We now have time and space to find a definitive solution while we save billions in tariffs for our companies, “celebrated the commissioner, who in the last three days has led the marathon negotiations with the US trade delegation.

Five years ago, During the presidency of Brack Obama and Biden himself, the US and the EU came reasonably close to concluding an ambitious and controversial free trade agreement, the TTIP, but the necessary progress was not achieved by both parties. The long-term goal is still to close something very big, but the damage this past five years has been profound and will take time to repair.

The US continues to have economic and commercial interests that are disparate from those of the US. The presidency in Washington has changed, but not the structure of the country, the pressure from its farmers and companies, or the sociological base. Biden has a different vision than Trump, it is not all a zero-sum game, but the country he has ‘inherited’ is not the same one he left as vice president. The air issue has been resolved, but not what affects steel or aluminum.


At the same time, however, the current White House is showing a stronger side to China, and for a global position it needs allies, and commercially there is none stronger than the EU. Biden’s big goal during last week’s G7 in the UK was to achieve some convergence towards his worldview on Beijing, and he is aware that to seduce Brussels he needed a clear message. Y Few things are more obvious than raising tariffs.

This has been indicated these days from Brussels by Katherine Tai, the United States representative for trade affairs, who has maintained constant contact with the team of Community Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis. The president of the Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, recalled this Tuesday that the Boeing and Airbus affair came up in the first phone conversation with Biden, in the month of February. “We must not underestimate the fact that it is the oldest trade dispute within the WTO.”

Biden, despite everything, has chosen not to appear jointly with Von der Leyen and the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, after the mini-summit on Tuesday. Tired after the week of the G7 in the United Kingdom and the NATO Summit on Monday, also in Brussels, the American president will now head to Switzerland, where he has to meet with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to address a crisis and some disputes. far more serious and durable than that of airplanes.

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