EU should defend itself against U.S. trade measures - Germany, France, Britain

FILE PHOTO - Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May is flanked by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel before their trilateral meeting at the European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/Pool

BERLIN (Reuters) - The leaders of Germany, France and Britain urged the U.S. government on Sunday to steer clear of imposing unilateral trade measures against the European Union.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Theresa May agreed during a joint phone call that the European Union should defend its 28 member states from any punitive U.S. tariffs based on international multilateral rules.

“They agreed that the United States should take no trade measures against the European Union or else the European Union should be ready to defend its interests within the framework of the multilateral trade order,” a German government spokesman said in a statement.

The United States imposed import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium in March, but it provided a temporary exemption until May 1 for the EU. President Donald Trump will decide then whether to make the exemption permanent.

Reporting by Joseph Nasr; editing by Jason Neely