And beyond the European Commission, which negotiates on behalf of the 27 member nations on trade issues, the concerns are largely shared in EU national capitals, too.
“All the member states are concerned,” said Czech Trade Minister Jozef Sikela, who chaired the emergency meeting.
The Czech minister said the EU still hopes divergences can be solved during a Dec. 5 meeting of the task force that the U.S. and EU have set up, with the possibility that the bloc would be treated like Canada and Mexico and be exempted from the subsidy conditions.
Trade disputes have been a red line for decades in trans-Atlantic relations, highlighted by fights over aircraft subsidies and steel exports and affecting everything from hormone-treated beef to liquor exports.
Planned subsidies under the Inflation Reduction Act passed by the U.S. Congress in August, are especially grating for the EU. For example, electric car buyers are eligible for a tax credit of up to $7,500 as long as the vehicle runs on a battery built in North America with minerals mined or recycled on the continent.
Adam Hodge, a spokesman for the U.S. trade representative, said shortly after the bill was signed into law in August that the intent of the tax credit is to boost “U.S. EV manufacturing, infrastructure and innovation that will help us meet our clean energy goals, reduce costs and create jobs” and “to reduce our dependence on China” for critical materials.
The EU believes that the measure is a potential trans-Atlantic trade barrier discriminating against foreign producers. Potential actions the EU can take are complaints before the World Trade Organization, trade sanctions or upping subsidies for their own companies.
Those considerations have to weighed against the need to cooperate on the geopolitical stage and the essence of showing a united front.
“We see that the parts from the East actually are trying to divide us,” Estonian Trade Minister Kristjan Jarvan said. "And of course economy plays a huge role in that.”