The European Commission wants to increase the U.S. quota of hormone-free beef imports to the EU, in a bid to defuse trade tensions between the two sides, it announced on Monday.
Brussels and Washington have had a long-running trade dispute over the use of hormones in beef, amid strong EU consumer opposition to the use of growth-promoting hormones in meat.
At present, the EU has an annual import ceiling of 45,000 tons of hormone-free beef before tariffs apply, available to exporters around the world on a first-come, first-served basis, according to the commission.
U.S. ranchers have long sought to increase the amount of beef they can sell to the EU.
EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan said “the already existing beef quota … will remain at exactly the same level,” in a press release, while describing the move as one step in a broader effort to reduce trade tensions.
The commission is proposing to earmark a share of the existing quota for U.S. producers.
Hogan said this is in line with a deal struck by EU President Jean-Claude Juncker and U.S. President, Donald Trump in July, aimed at defusing a broader trade war triggered by U.S. tariffs on EU steel and aluminium imports.
A commission spokesman said on Monday that this new step would also not open the way to changing the EU’s ban on hormone-treated beef.