The European Union fears that China and the United States, who are about to begin to negotiate how to manage the threat of trade war between protectionist systems, will reach an agreement for the distribution of quotas that leaves European companies out. It is not that the EU is less protectionist, but that it fears to be left without its portion of cake.
“We are in favour of fair global trade based on rules, but the rules should be the same for everyone,” added the Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Employment, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen when asked about the effect that a potential agreement between China and the US could have for the EU. It was a month ago, after the first meeting held between the EU and China since Xi Jinping and Donald Trump greed to a truce of 90 days.
The EU can play an important role if it considers that China needs it as a counterweight to the United States and plays with its economic power which, although in crisis, is not as unimportant as it is sometimes said.
But Europe has a vulnerability. It still lacks a foreign policy agreed upon among its members, it continues without gaining political prominence, much less military, and continues to put at the same level, (Trump aside) its criticism to the United States and China. Although we must remember that the position of the European Commission and the concrete opinion of the countries that set the course of the Union, France and Germany are different things.
But the fact of an absence of common criteria (because the absence of an agreed strategy stems from a lack of unity of criteria, since, in the end, there is no identification of national interests) makes European protagonism more difficult; and the initiatives of France, Germany and others (Spain among them) to achieve investments and business areas reveal the weakness of the community project.
So, it is probably time to stop regretting the lack of such unitary strategy and to try to locate and assume the lowest common denominator among the national interests of the Member States to take some measures that should be more oriented towards free trade than towards raising protectionist barriers of the European market. It is not easy, but that is the challenge. (Traducción: Isabel Gacho Carmona)