During the last presidential election campaign, Donald Trump ran on a ticket of ‘America First’.
Less than a year into his tenure at the White House, we are already seeing this protectionist thinking in action, with the United States Department of Commerce deciding to accept allegations from Boeing that the UK and Canada have been giving the Bombardier C Series aircraft unfair support.
It should first be noted that this kind of protectionism doesn’t help anyone. US companies will suffer, and thousands of high-skill American jobs will be negatively affected because of this decision too, given the fact that over 50% of the C-Series is made up of US components.
Disputes of this kind between aircraft manufacturers are nothing new. In the years when I served as chair of the European Parliament delegation for relations with the US Congress, these issues were often at the top of the agenda.
In particular, during disputes between the US and the EU about Boeing and Airbus, the European Commission never missed any opportunity to highlight the advantage Boeing was able to accrue from the US government.
There may be a temptation from Brussels this time to sit back and let the UK government do the fighting, after all we will be leaving the EU in two years.
Similarly, there may be an element of pride on the UK side, reluctant to seek out Brussels for help. This would be a huge mistake for all involved, as this decision from the US has the potential to hurt all of us.
What is clear is that Europe had and still has the expertise and negotiating skills to take on the US.
And while we are still members of the European Union, I think the government should be using every avenue possible to reverse this decision, and to defend Bombardier workers in Belfast.
Jim Nicholson, Ulster Unionist MEP