Donald Trump: 'Nobody treats us much worse than the EU'

The comments targeting the trans-Atlantic relationship come as US-EU trade negotiations are in an early stage. In July, the two sides agreed to de-escalate a brewing trade fight.

US President Donald Trump on Sunday again railed against the trans-Atlantic trade relationship, claiming that "nobody treats us much worse than the European Union."

"The European Union was formed in order to take advantage of us on trade, and that's what they've done," Trump said in a televised interview on CBS.

Read more: Donald Trump's man in Brussels extends a hand to the EU

Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker agreed in July to reduce trade tensions and work toward elimination of tariffs on industrial goods. Both sides also agreed no new tariffs would be imposed as trade talks continue, taking US threats to impose levies on European auto imports temporally off the table.

The ceasefire tamped down escalating trans-Atlantic trade tensions that threatened to morph into a tit-for-tat trade fight as witnessed between the US and China. An unorthodox Trump administration trade strategy with Mexico and Canada led the three sides to reach a new trade deal earlier this month.

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Business | 10.10.2018

Germany's Emsland feels Trump's pinch

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Trump said his hard-handed tactics against the EU were not hostile toward America's allies.

"You know what's hostile? The way they treat us. We're not hostile," Trump told CBS journalist Lesley Stahl after she suggested the administration was behaving in a hostile manner toward US allies.

Trump continued that he liked NATO now that alliance members have vowed to increase defense spending.

"Now, I like NATO, NATO's fine. But you know what? We shouldn't be paying almost the entire cost of NATO to protect Europe. And then on top of that, they take advantage of us on trade. They're not going to do it anymore. They understand that," he said.

Donald Trump on NATO: Top quotes

Trump on NATO: A war of words

Even before taking office, US President Donald Trump's relationship with NATO has been a tumultuous one, to say the least. He has disparaged the trans-Atlantic alliance, once describing it as "obsolete" and a relic of the Cold War. Here are Trump's most memorable quotes about the military alliance, even if they are at times false.

Donald Trump on NATO: Top quotes

'Days of the Soviet Union'

While on the campaign trail in 2016, Trump made clear that he saw NATO as a relic of the Cold War. "You know, we're dealing with NATO from the days of the Soviet Union, which no longer exists. We need to either transition into terror or we need something else." But his remarks didn't account for how the alliance backed the US well after the collapse of the Soviet Union, especially in Afghanistan.

Donald Trump on NATO: Top quotes

'Germany owes vast sums'

Trump has made defense spending his main talking point on NATO. But he has falsely accused member states of owing money to Washington, saying: "Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO, and the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany." The problem is NATO doesn't work like that. No money is owed to the alliance for defense or otherwise.

Donald Trump on NATO: Top quotes

'Obsolete'

Days before his inauguration, Trump caught NATO members off guard when he claimed the alliance was "obsolete" and threatened to withdraw support. "I said a long time ago that NATO had problems: Number one, it was obsolete, because it was designed many, many years ago." Months later, he retracted his statement, citing changes within the alliance. "Now they fight terrorism," he said.

Donald Trump on NATO: Top quotes

'Doesn't sound very smart'

Trump had tended to lump trade between US allies with how much Washington spends on defense. "We are spending a fortune on military in order to lose $800 billion (in trade losses). That doesn't sound very smart to me," Trump said. The problem is that while NATO members have agreed to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense, the alliance has nothing to do with international trade.

Donald Trump on NATO: Top quotes

'We are the schmucks'

During a 2018 rally in Montana, Trump hit out at European allies, saying: "They want (us) to protect against Russia, and yet they pay billions of dollars to Russia, and we're the schmucks paying for the whole thing." Trump was referring to Russia as Europe's primary source for oil and natural gas, but he created a false dichotomy between energy reliance and NATO's defense spending goal.

Donald Trump on NATO: Top quotes

Montenegro 'may get aggressive and congratulations, you're in World War III"

In an interview with Fox News, Trump was asked why the US should jump the defense of NATO ally Montenegro in the event of an attack. The president said he'd asked himself the same question, appearing undermine the military alliance's collective defense clause. Trump went on to describe Montenegrins as a "very strong" and "very aggressive," and that that aggression risked starting World War III.