Donald Trump Says the EU Was Set Up in Order to Hurt the United States

President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker deliver a joint statement on trade in the Rose Garden of the White House, July 25, in Washington, D.C. Juncker met with Trump in an effort to avert an all-out trade war between the transatlantic economic giants. Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Donald Trump has once again taken aim at the European Union over its trade policy, and suggested the 28-nation bloc had been established to hurt the U.S.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the president repeated his threat to impose tariffs on European imports and suggested—once again—that he considered the EU an adversary on the same level as China.

Speaking with reporter Bob Davis Monday, Trump said: "The only difference between the EU and China is size. They treat us very badly. They don't take our farm products. They don't take our cars. They don't take anything. And yet, we give them a lot."

The president hasn't ceased to criticize the EU since he took up residence in the White House. While the U.S. and the EU have had many disagreements on economic policy throughout the EU's history, relations between Brussels and Washington had generally remained close.

But Trump has openly argued that the EU was a competitor that threatened to undermine the U.S. In July, he called the organization a "foe" on trade. "Now you wouldn't think of the European Union but they're a foe," he said.

In his call with the Journal, Trump went even further, claiming the EU "was set up in order to hurt the United States on trade."

On the campaign trail and in office, Trump has used the threat of tariffs to try to force negotiated trade agreements—and the EU has been one of his main targets. In July, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker visited Trump in Washington in an effort to avert an all-out trade war between the transatlantic economic giants. The two men eventually agreed to work toward a "zero-tariff" approach on non-auto industrial goods.

One of Trump's most consistent grievances has been that European cars sell well in the U.S., but U.S. cars do not sell as well in the EU. The president has seemingly ignored the fact that European consumers have little need for large, gas-guzzling, high-polluting vehicles, and instead blames import duties for the underperformance of American brands.

Speaking with the Journal, Trump returned to the topic, suggesting he could rapidly introduce tariffs if he wanted to. "If they don't make a fair deal with us [on cars], I'd do it in about 12 minutes," he told Davis.

Asked what he wanted the EU to do to avoid this, the president said: "They have to take down their barriers and that they have to start…stop charging us massive taxes for our people."

Juncker had previously threatened to respond in kind if Trump did institute new tariffs on European cars. In August, Juncker warned that the EU would not let anyone else determine the bloc's trade policies.

Trump also took issue with the variation in quality standards between the U.S. and EU. "They'll create a standard…we'll make a product, and they'll make a standard that's different than the product, lower or higher," he said. "But it's different. So then our product can't come into the EU. They do that all the time.

"And, frankly, they have to start treating our companies better, because they sue all of our companies for billions and billions of dollars," Trump continued. "They're picking up all this money from our companies. We should be the ones to sue our companies."