US and EU agree to negotiate to give favorable treatment to critical European raw materials | International | The USA Print

The president of the United States, Joe Biden, at the beginning of the meeting with Ursula Von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.Andrew Harnik (AP)

White flag in the main debate in the transatlantic relationship. As expected, Europe and the United States have agreed to open negotiations for Washington to grant favorable treatment to European strategic raw materials. As announced by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, after her meeting in the Oval Office of the White House with the President of the United States, Joe Biden, the two blocs will also open a dialogue on transparency about their respective incentives. to green energies, to guarantee that they join “forces”, something “fundamental to achieve the goal of zero emissions”, and to ensure that a public aid war does not take place.

The two leaders had a lot to talk about in their business meeting in the Oval Office. On the table, economic and commercial issues: reach an agreement that avoids a subsidy war between the two transatlantic partners for electric vehicles; the war in Ukraine, and the possibility of sanctions on third countries that help Russia; and competition—for the United States, stark rivalry—with China.

But differences over the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which allocates more than $350 billion to clean energy development and the fight against climate change, were the dominant issue. . The approval of that measure last year angered European partners. The EU criticized, among other things, some provisions that offer juicy subsidies to electric cars manufactured in the United States and whose components come, at least in half of their value, from that country or from others with which Washington has signed agreements of free trade.

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Since then, Europe has also proposed its own aid and has raised a series of laws on issues such as critical raw materials or semiconductors to support the bloc’s technological autonomy.

“By building and strengthening our clean energy industrial foundations and investing in the industries of the future, the United States and the European Union will create good-paying jobs and launch virtuous circles of innovation that drive down the costs of clean energy,” the joint statement said. after the meeting.

The EU and the US will immediately begin “negotiations for an agreement on certain critical minerals, so that relevant critical minerals that have been extracted or processed in the European Union will count towards meeting the requirements of the IRA,” the text announces. With this, it will be possible to “give a boost” to the production and processing of minerals and expand access to raw materials, “sustainable, reliable and free of labor abuses”. Both blocks highlight the need to cooperate to reduce their strategic dependencies in the supply chains of these materials, of which China is the producer of a good part of the world total.

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Both have also agreed to launch a Dialogue on Clean Energy Incentives to coordinate their respective aid programs, “so that they are mutually reinforcing”, do not compete with each other in a fight that would only benefit private interests and make the most of the investment for the development of clean energy. The two sides also aim to close their negotiations on sustainable steel and aluminum by October this year.

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Support for Ukraine and pressure on Russia

The two leaders also devoted another good part of their conversation to the war in Ukraine and the increasing economic pressure on Russia. “We are united in our unwavering support for Ukraine for as long as it takes,” both underlined in the statement. The respective blocs will continue their cooperation to guarantee Europe’s energy security “by diversifying sources, reducing consumption and cutting Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels”, they indicate, and will seek even greater integration of Ukraine into European energy markets, to guarantee the economic security of that country at war.

The European Union is an important ally of Washington in the conflict. Brussels has imposed 10 rounds of sanctions against Russia, expelled that country’s banks from the SWIFT international payments system, frozen Russian assets and reduced its dependence on gas exported by the former Soviet power. And his support for Ukraine, only behind that of the United States and which already reaches 13,000 million euros, also includes military assistance and the training of soldiers from the invaded nation.

Biden and von der Leyen agreed to take steps to enforce sanctions and take action against third countries that may provide assistance to Russia in the conflict. They also want to “further limit Russia’s income” and ensure that “the costs of this war continue to grow for Moscow”.

This Friday is Biden’s most recent meeting with leaders of the European partners regarding the war, when the first anniversary of the Russian invasion has just passed and the conflict threatens to enter a new, bloodier phase: on the eve of the meeting, Russia launched a broad air strike on Ukrainian territory.

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The US president met in kyiv at the end of February with the Ukrainian head of state, Volodimir Zelensky, to commemorate the start of the war. In Warsaw he spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the leaders of the Alliance members in Eastern Europe. Back in Washington, last week he also saw himself in the Oval Office with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The next time he will do it in California with the British, Rishi Sunak, and Australian, Anthony Albanese, prime ministers. At the end of this month he will travel to Ottawa to meet with the head of the Canadian government, Justin Trudeau. And this Thursday, the White House Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, was talking with the Finnish president.

China was also part of the conversation between Biden and von der Leyen. Although Washington and Brussels are coordinated in their positions on the Asian giant, those positions are not identical. The United States perceives Beijing as the rival to beat; Europe has traditionally been softer. Although that is changing.

“We are increasingly aligned in our positions regarding China,” said a senior US official on the eve of the meeting between the two leaders. Washington accuses Beijing of considering providing military aid to Moscow, something it had not done in the first 12 months of the war, and has threatened the Asian giant with “serious consequences” if that assistance materializes. Both leaders expressed the need to strengthen “economic security.” They also stated their concern about practices such as “economic coercion, the use of economic trends as a weapon, and non-market policies and practices.” Washington considers China suspicious of all of them.

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