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Borrell to join EU-US summit as Brussels seeks to present united foreign policy front

Borrell to join EU-US summit as Brussels seeks to present united foreign policy front

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EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will attend Friday’s EU-U.S. summit in Washington as the EU seeks to put forward a united front after a week of mixed messages on Israel policy.

Borrell had not originally been scheduled to attend Friday’s summit at the White House, but now will join European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel in their meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden, two officials told POLITICO. The officials were granted anonymity as they are not authorized to discuss the meeting publicly.

Friday’s meeting will deal with a host of transatlantic issues, including efforts to resolve a long-running dispute over steel and aluminum. 

As POLITICO previously reported, Brussels and Washington plan to team up to create a joint tariff zone that will impose duties on steel and aluminum imports from non-market economies such as China, according to a draft document circulated ahead of the meeting.

Under the proposed interim deal, dated October 3, Washington and the EU agree to provide “adequate tariff protection against imports of steel and aluminum from sources of non-market excess capacity.” That would mean 25 percent for steel, and 10 percent for aluminum. 

But while talks on trade and critical raw materials will be part of Friday’s summit, the current crisis in Israel will now be a big focus of the meeting.

The EU has been struggling to present a united front since the crisis erupted, with von der Leyen facing a backlash for not publicly calling for restraint from Israel as it responds to the Hamas attacks.

Borrell, who heads the EU’s foreign policy unit, has said Israel’s actions in Gaza already may have breached international law. Speaking at the end of a visit to China at the weekend, he also said that it was the European Council and foreign ministers who determine EU foreign policy, reiterating that Israel’s right of self-defense has to be in accordance with international humanitarian law.

An emergency virtual summit of EU leaders has been convened for Tuesday to discuss the bloc’s response to the crisis.

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