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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Ready To Fight Sanctions

BRUSSELS -- The European Union pressed ahead Wednesday with preparations to retaliate against Washington despite a U.S. decision to delay a law punishing Europeans for doing business in Cuba.


While welcoming a six-month delay in implementation of the anti-Cuba legislation, EU officials said President Bill Clinton had not gone far enough to dispel their objections to the Helms-Burton Act.


"The fundamental problem of extraterritoriality has not been rooted out," said Peter Guilford, a spokesman at the European Commission, the EU's executive body. "We will go on equipping ourselves with the necessary measures in order to defend ourselves."


In London, British Trade Secretary Ian Lang demanded that Clinton abandon the disputed measure, telling BBC Radio: "We must bring home to the Americans the unacceptable nature of what they are doing."


EU nations object to a provision of the U.S. law that allows Americans to sue foreign companies if they use property confiscated from U.S. owners by the Cuban regime after the country's communist revolution in 1959.


Backed by Canada and Mexico, the EU contends the measure violates world-trade rules by extending U.S. law beyond American borders.


EU legal experts discussed Wednesday whether to demand a dispute-resolution panel at the World Trade Organization in Geneva.


Separately, the European Commission made technical preparations to implement retaliatory steps approved by the 15 EU foreign ministers this week.


Officials said the ambassadors of EU nations would consider Thursday if any of those steps were still warranted.


Possible countermeasures included opening the WTO case, enacting legislation in EU countries to negate the impact of the U.S. law, requiring visas for U.S. businessmen and drawing up a list of U.S. companies that tried to sue European businesses.


Guilford said a decision to go ahead with any of the countersanctions would have to be approved by EU governments, which could take several days.