At 9:45 A.M., we met underneath the Simone Veil dedication in front of the European Parliament. A warm and beautiful day in front of us, we walked into the building ready to learn about the European Parliament and the trade relationship between the European Union and other states.
We were guided to a briefing room and had the pleasure of being briefed by Laura Puccio, who has an extensive career in European Union trade law. With years of training and education behind her, Ms. Puccio was able to inform and answer all our questions as well as provide insight into new topics. Her main focuses are on Brexit and the European Union-United States relationship. With the election of the Donald Trump, it seems that the European Union has lost a strong ally. It has brought forth an era of uncertainty and confusion, especially with trade.
Ms. Puccio then proceeded to explain the World Trade Organizations three measures that are considered exemptions for applying tariffs to all trading partners. The first is anti-dumping, which is if a company exports a product at a price lower than the price it normally charges on its own home market, it is said to be “dumping” the product. The next measure is countervailing measures. This agreement does two things: it disciplines the use of subsidies, and it regulates the actions countries can take to counter the effects of subsidies. Finally, there are safeguards. A WTO member may restrict imports of a product temporarily if its domestic industry is injured or threatened with an injury caused by a surge in imports.
Donald Trump has placed tariffs on products such as steel and aluminum. This hurts the European Union significantly as this negatively impacts there domestic producers. It makes it far too expensive to ship, which decreases exports and profit significantly.
The EU has notified to the WTO a list of US products on which the EU may in the future apply extra import duties. This would be to compensate in an equivalent manner for the impact of the US tariff measures on steel and aluminum, which the EU considers to be safeguard measures in effect, should they enter into force.
With this information in mind, my classmates asked important questions. For example, whether or not the European Union has placed safeguard measures on products that would specifically target middle America. According to Ms. Puccio, the tariffs are clearly a bit politicized and while it is not explicitly stated, it is incredibly hard to not recognized the purpose of those tariffs.
After an incredible briefing, we got to enjoy a delicious lunch at the café in the House of European History. Where we also had to say goodbye to Dr. Markley, but fortunately she is rejoining us soon!
The museum itself was interesting and intricate. We were given tablets that were interactive. Every time we would walk into a new part of the museum, we were able to listen to different parts of history that went along with it.
For example, we started off learning about Europe in the 19th century. We further explored Europe’s history in terms of Slave Trade, both World Wars, and the creation of the European Union. One of the areas that really stood out to me was the information about the Slave Trade. We don’t really focus on that aspect of European history, so to have some insight about it was really important to me. We saw blueprints that showed how slaves were crammed into ships and were transported to be sold.
The most interactive part of the museum was the comparison of Western Europe to the Soviet Union and their republics. There was a table where you could use your tablets and compare the GDP of Denmark to the GDP of the Soviet Union. You could also compare the infant mortality, education and amount of cars per person. It was interesting to see the comparisons of the different parts of the world. Similarly, there was another table where you could vote on the lives of people and which one you preferred. For example, there were two 20-year olds who were deciding about school. The main difference was where they lived. One lived in France and the other lived in Latvia. They had different outcomes once they finished school, and another dichotomy was demonstrated between the West and East.
My favorite part of the museum was the final floor. There was a wall dedicated to quotes from visitors of the museum. The words on the wall ranged from support of the European Union to calls for gender equality. It truly showed how united the European Union is, especially in divisive times like these.