July 18, 2018 / 2:53 PM / a month ago

EU's Juncker 'upbeat and relaxed' ahead of Trump trade meeting

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he was “upbeat and relaxed” ahead of his trip to Washington next week to discuss strained trade relations between the European Union and the United States.

FILE PHOTO: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker speaks during a joint news conference with European Investment Bank President Werner Hoyer at the EC headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Juncker is due meet U.S. President Donald Trump on July 25 with a clear focus on trade after the United States imposed tariffs on EU steel and aluminum and Trump’s repeated threats to extend those measures to European cars.

Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said he expected Juncker to come with a “significant” trade offer.

However, EU officials have sought to lower expectations about what Juncker can achieve and downplayed suggestions that he will arrive with a novel plan to restore good relations.

The bloc previously offered to open its markets wider to U.S. imports, including cars, as part of a reciprocal but limited trade deal, but Washington rebuffed the proposal.

Juncker told a news conference on Wednesday he was “upbeat and relaxed” at the prospect of next week’s meeting, but said the European Union would not be intimidated.

“We will continue to react tit-for-tat to the provocations that might be thrown at us,” he said.

Juncker has been outspoken in his criticism of Trump’s decision to impose trade tariffs and last month told lawmakers that Trump had called him a “brutal killer” at a Group of Seven meeting in Canada.

Junker said he would seek again to explain to Trump that the European Commission coordinates trade policy for the 28-country European Union and that the United States could therefore not forge a trade deal with just one of its members.

“When it comes to trade, the European Union, its internal market, its single market, form an indivisible unity and it’s the Commission that is in charge of articulating trade policy. All efforts to divide the European Union are in vain,” Juncker said.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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