December 08,2003

Grassley on the European Union Council's Action on Trade Sanctions


To: Reporters and Editors
Fr: Jill Gerber, 202/224-6522
Re: European Union action on sanctions
Da: Monday, Dec. 8, 2003

Today the European Union Council adopted a regulation to impose sanctions beginning on March 1, 2004, in connection with the ongoing FSC/ETI dispute with the United States. Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Finance Committee, offered the following comments in response to this action:

“I'm disappointed that the EU Council has taken this step toward imposing sanctions. The United States is moving to comply, and I fully expect us to be in compliance early next year. Adopting a rigid mechanism for imposing sanctions won’t change that. In fact, it could be counter productive.

"While I still need to carefully review the details of the proposal that's been adopted, itappears to allow for automatic and escalating sanctions with little input from EU member states, andwithout any flexibility to respond to changing circumstances. I'm concerned such a mechanicalprocedure could force sanctions regardless of any changing dynamics in Europe or the United Statesas we move toward compliance. I'll bet there are a lot of European companies that could be hurt bysanctions that would share my concerns.

"I'm also a bit surprised that the Council took this action because I don't think the 133Committee had a chance to weigh in formally. My understanding is that the 133 Committee hasoriginal jurisdiction over trade sanctions proposals and is supposed to weigh in formally before thecouncil moves toward adoption. That process doesn't seem to have been followed in this case."