Defense Secretary James Mattis bears the burden of placating members of the European Union during his trip to Brussels on Wednesday.
“Mattis is going to be looking to reassure allies, try to strengthen relationships and continue to press the need for them to live up to their 2 percent commitment,” an official close to the issue said to Reuters on Wednesday.
American allies in the EU became angry after President Donald Trump removed the temporary reprieve on tariffs for Canada, Mexico and the EU, and implemented a 25-percent tax on steel and 10-percent tax on aluminum. The EU plans to apply a counter-tariff on U.S. goods including steel, agriculture, bourbon, peanut butter, cranberries and orange juice starting in July. (RELATED: When The Clock Strikes Midnight, So Does The Tariff Reprieve For Mexico And Canada)
Mattis will be meeting with defense ministers who are part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to discuss Europe’s contribution to the collective defense of NATO countries.
Mattis stressed that “the U.S. continued commitment presents an incentive for Europeans to do more” during the NATO meeting at Belgium headquarters in February. He was referring to the U.S.’s desire to have all NATO countries contribute at least 2 percent economic output to defense every year by 2024.
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