EU's New Leader Aims to Convince Trump He Still Needs Old Allies

(Bloomberg) -- The next leader of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said she hopes to dissuade U.S. President Donald Trump from imposing tariffs on EU cars by reminding him of all the areas where European and American interests coincide.

“If you look at the broader picture a lot of things are interdependent,” von der Leyen said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Strasbourg, France, after winning a confirmation vote Tuesday evening. The plan will be “to convince our friends from the U.S. that it’s better to find a good compromise and work together,” she said.

Von der Leyen, a 60-year-old German native, will formally take charge of the European Union’s executive arm in November when transatlantic relations are under strain, because the U.S. argues imported autos pose a national-security threat. A push by both sides for an agreement to cut industrial tariffs across the board is on hold as the U.S. presses to include agriculture in the negotiations, over the EU’s objections.

The barrage of threats from the White House is straining relations between German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- who has most to lose from car tariffs -- and Emmanuel Macron in France, where farmers are most attached to EU trade protections.

‘Common Interests’

Trump’s determination to tear up the multilateral order that has helped European economies to prosper for almost 70 years will pose an unprecedented challenge for von der Leyen, who was previously defense minister in Berlin.

She said that she would try to remind Trump of the common interests that the EU and the U.S. share in order to shore up their relationship.

Stocks in the U.S. fell from a record high on Tuesday after Trump threatened to impose more tariffs on China. The trade tensions fanned by the U.S. leader are also hurting the European economy -- investor confidence in Germany’s economic outlook fell for a third month in July.

"We do have issues but we should never forget that we are allies and we are friends," von der Leyen said. "There are way more issues and problems that concern the two of us together."

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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