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Talking Europe

US ambassador to the EU: ‘We’re not getting due credit on trade issues’

Gordon Sondland, US President Donald Trump’s man in Brussels, gives FRANCE 24 his first long-format interview to a European broadcaster. Five months into the job, he talks tough on the EU but says that, despite all the problems, Trump’s ultimate goal is still to drop all trade barriers on both sides. “I think the president is willing to take that political heat as long as there’s no cherry-picking”.

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On the transatlantic relationship, Sondland says that “while the relationship is long and deep, and the United States has for decades supported the EU, we don’t really get credit for that when it comes to trade issues".

Regarding the European defense, the US stand firm, he says: “It cannot undermine spending on NATO, it has to be complementary with NATO and NATO would have to sign off on it. We’ve encouraged the Europeans, whether we agree or not, to come up with a very specific list of what they intend to do and how they intend to spend the money. But I’m not even sure the Europeans agree on what they define as European defence.”

On the new Franco-German proposal to jointly host a “special purpose vehicle” to get around Iran sanctions, the ambassador says: “They can create all the special purpose vehicles they want; they’re useless….Any business can do business with Iran; they can also do business with the United States, but they can’t do business with both.”

Produced by Isabelle Romero, Roxane Runel and Mathilde Bénézet.

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