THE EU has said it stands ready to hit back “swiftly and appropriately” if Donald Trump takes unfair trade measures against the 28-nation bloc.

The warning comes less than 24 hours after the US president expressed his annoyance with EU policy, saying this irritation “may morph into something very big”.

The stand-off contrasted sharply with relations during the administration of Barack Obama, when both sides sought to create a massive free trade zone between the EU and United States which, it was argued, could yield more than $100 billion (£70bn) a year for both sides.

When Trump won the presidential election in November 2016, those hopes evaporated as the new president talked about protecting American jobs and going against multilateral trade deals that he portrayed as detrimental to his “America First” policies.

On Sunday, Trump said in a British television interview that “the European Union has been very, very unfair to the United States, and I think it’ll turn out to be very much to their detriment”.

He insisted that his trade issues with the EU “may morph into something very big from that standpoint, from a trade standpoint”.