The European Union, reacting to President Bush's threat to file a trade complaint over its support for Airbus SAS, said yesterday that it would be ready to cut that support in return for less U.S. aid to Boeing Co.
"The E.U. has as strong an interest in disciplining government support to Boeing as the U.S. has in disciplining support to Airbus," said Ewa Hedlund, a spokeswoman at the European Commission, the E.U.'s executive agency in Brussels.
Bush said Friday during a campaign stop in Seattle that European subsidies to Airbus were "unfair" and the United States may file a World Trade Organization complaint to force a cut. Both sides have discussed aircraft aid in recent weeks and more talks are planned.
Boeing, which has much of its production in the Seattle area, gets indirect U.S. government subsidies through research grants from defense projects and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Toulouse, France-based Airbus receives loans from the British, French and German governments that Boeing says carry below-market interest rates.
David Voskuhl, an Airbus spokesman, declined to comment yesterday other than to say, "Airbus gets repayable loans, not subsidies."
Boeing chief executive Harry C. Stonecipher issued a statement saying the company is "pleased that the president is determined to see U.S. negotiators create a more appropriate framework with their E.U. counterparts."
Phil Singer, a spokesman for Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), said in an e-mail statement that Bush's call is "too little, too late."