European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton will not participate in the upcoming EU-U.S. Trade and Tech Council meeting on December 5.
The twice-annual event allows senior officials like Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to promote closer ties between Washington and Brussels — as well as tackle thorny issues like controversial electric car subsidies in the United States.
Yet Breton, who has previously voiced frustration at these transatlantic tech and trade summits, decided not to travel to Washington for Monday’s event because not enough time had been dedicated to ongoing disputes over the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, according to a close aide. That legislation will hand out subsidies for electric cars made in the U.S., among other measures.
Less than an hour has been set aside to hammer out a potential compromise on that ongoing trade dispute, which prompted European Union member countries — led by France — to call for potential retaliatory trade actions against the U.S. Governments are concerned the American car subsides may hamper the economic prospects of EU automakers, accusations Washington denies. Breton is expected to travel to Washington on his own in early 2023 for meetings with U.S. politicians and policymakers.
On Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron suggested that both sides could find a short-term compromise to the trade dispute.
Three separate EU sources, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, told POLITICO that part of the reason Breton was no longer traveling to Washington was because he had not officially been invited to the so-called Kennedy Center Honors, an annual event to recognize the contribution of those in the performing arts. This year, that event will herald the likes of actor George Clooney. Breton’s aide, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, denied those claims.
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