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‘We can’t close our borders’: Harsh solar industry protectionism off the table

(EurActiv, 4 Mar 2024) Tariffs on Chinese solar panels look to be off the table as EU countries look towards drafting a declaration of support to their domestic solar industry while turning away from past measures like anti-dumping tariffs.

In 2023, the EU installed 56 GW of solar panels, an all-time high. Meanwhile, Europe’s remaining players in the solar industry supply chain are being squeezed by cheaper Chinese panels – a concern of politicians like the German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck, who strives to maintain a base level of European production.

Some industry players make a case for a second round of anti-dumping tariffs, which increasingly appears off the table. “We can not close our borders,” stressed Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson ahead of a working lunch with EU countries on Monday (4 March).

During the lunch, EU countries are set to discuss the issue and agree on a way forward. “We have been benefitting a lot from the record rate of installations,” Simson explained, adding that “supporting our industry” would need to be done while ensuring that “all products” continue to be available “to meet our ambitious 2030 targets.”

Berlin was set to put a proposal forward at lunch, but “trade measures are not needed”, explained Germany’s Sven Giegold, state-secretary at the ministry of economy and climate action. 

Instead, he favoured the adoption of “resilience criteria,” like fencing off a share of state-supported auctions for solar panels made in Europe or Germany.

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EurActiv, 4 Mar 2024: ‘We can’t close our borders’: Harsh solar industry protectionism off the table