BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union is still waiting for a "solid outline" from the U.S. on its goals for trade with the 28-nation bloc, a senior EU official said after the bloc's trade ministers met Friday, insisting that trans-Atlantic relations must be in both sides' interest.
There is widespread concern in Europe about the possibility of a more protectionist U.S. approach under President Donald Trump and about the administration's wider view of the EU.
One of Trump's first actions as president was to withdraw the U.S. from a trans-Pacific trade agreement. Talks on the long-planned Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the U.S. and EU are currently frozen, and that accord also faces opposition in parts of Europe.
"We await to hear a solid outline of the United States' plans and goals for trade with the EU," Economy Minister Christian Cardona of Malta, which holds the 28-nation EU's presidency, said after hosting fellow trade ministers in Valletta.
"There are risks for the multilateral trading system if the United States had to consider any extreme action, as in pulling out of WTO," or World Trade Organization, said Cardona, who spoke in English. He added that trans-Atlantic relations "should be in both the EU and the U.S. mutual interest."
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said there is still "a lot of uncertainties" about the new administration's direction.
She added that she was "very encouraged" to hear strong support for the EU's own trade agenda, which includes trade negotiations with Japan, Mexico and South America's Mercosur bloc.
They offer "a possibility for the European Union to show that we can do good trade deals, sustainable trade deals that are win-win," Malmstrom said.