"This is a point we make very clear to our American partners and allies," she said.
Margaritas Schinas, the European Commission's high-ranking spokeswoman, said there was "no justification" for the United States to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum for national security reasons. "In the case of the auto industry, the call for national security would still be far-fetched," she said.
In an interview with CNBC, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, who directs the investigation, said that the administration's national level defines "broad" security, including its impact on employment and other factors. "Economic security is military security," he said. "And without economic security you can not have military security."
Mr. Trump has outlined the threat of tariffs as a potential source of leverage in talks to recast the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has largely blocked rules on how automakers can qualify for Nafta's zero duties.
On Wednesday, President Trump said auto companies would be "very happy" with his announcement. But few seemed to be pleased.
While many companies said they were still waiting for the likely impact of the measure, automakers, auto parts suppliers and car dealers said they were threatening to increase their costs, push car sales and jobs in the United States, and make American products worldwide less competitive. The industry has already been hit by tariffs on steel and aluminum, which weighed on their profit margins, and the threat of impending trade deals against China and possible Chinese retaliation.
"When the tariffs actually came into effect It would turn the supply industry on its head," said Ann Wilson, senior vice president of government affairs for the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, which represents auto parts manufacturers. "We are very dependent on the ability to bring parts from other parts of the world into final production in the US, and if that is not sustainable, the question is whether the production of vehicles in this country is financially sustainable?" [1