The EU has gone on the front foot after Trump announced a delay, rather than a total scrap, of controversial metal tariffs against the bloc.

Some countries and trading blocs including the EU and Canada were granted temporary exemptions from the taxes earlier this year. As part of the EU, the UK was also covered by this special treatment. At midnight on April 30 this exemption was due to expire and was extended for 30 days.

The decision to postpone, rather than scrap the taxes on US imports of steel and aluminium, at 25pc and 10pc respectively, “prolongs market uncertainty”, the European Commission said.

The EC also hit back at the notion that it was responsible for dumping cheap steel on world markets – a situation the US is seeking to tackle by imposing the tariffs.

“Overcapacity in the steel and aluminium sectors does not originate in the EU. On the contrary the EU has over the past months engaged at all possible levels with the US and other partners to find a solution to this issue,” the EC said.

Cecilia Malmström, the EU’s Commissioner for Trade, had been in contact with US commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in recent weeks, and will continue to discuss the matter, the EC confirmed.