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EU countries approve launch of US trade talks

AFP  |  Brussels 

EU member states gave the green light on Thursday for to open trade talks with Washington, diplomatic sources said, ending months of due to opposition from

The negotiating mandate was now set to be adopted without discussion by EU agriculture ministers on Monday in Brussels, a European told AFP.

Envoys from the EU's 28 member states had struggled to agree on a mandate to open trans-Atlantic talks, with some fearing the revival of a trade war with

Pursuing a limited trade deal is a central component of an EU-US truce negotiated in July that has come close to imploding after the US on Tuesday threatened $11 billion in fresh trade tariffs against

had blocked the mandate to lanch talks worried of domestic blowback just months ahead of European elections, set for May 22 to 26.

To satisfy its demands, France's EU partners agreed to insist on guarantees on the environment during the talks from the US, which pulled out in 2017 of the Agreement on climate change.

"Good luck to explain to your people that you are willing to sign an agreement with a country that strongly refuses to take any commitment related to the environment," a said.

however stepped back from Emmanuel Macron's earlier promise to refuse any deal with countries that refute the accord.

French negotiators also obtained a guarantee from its EU partners that TTIP, a far more ambitious transatlantic trade plan, was "obsolete and no longer relevant", a European source told AFP.

That deal, negotiated to no success with the Obama administration, stalled amid widespread protests in Germany, and over fears it would undermine EU standards on and health.

The mandate falls short of killing TTIP for good, with some member states eager to maintain an option to revive those talks if the political context should change in the EU and US.

strongly wants the limited deal in order to placate Trump and avoid US auto tariffs that would punish Germany's cherished exports, a has labelled "frightening".

At the dramatic meeting last July at the White House, Trump and pledged no new tariffs following those on and aluminium.

That peace was in danger on Monday as the US threatened to impose tariff counter-measures of up to USD11.2 billion on a host of European products in response to subsidies received by

In a tweet Trump said: "The EU has taken advantage of the US on trade for many years.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, April 11 2019. 22:00 IST