Saxon minister-president blames the US for the restlessness of the European solar industry – Euractiv EN

As Europe faces an influx of Chinese solar panels, struggling European manufacturers have called on the EU to take emergency measures. Speaking of the situation, Minister-President land Saxony’s Michael Kretschmer blamed the protectionist policy of the United States towards China as the cause of the difficulties faced by European manufacturers and also argued that the current situation shows the need for the EU to adopt a trade policy independent of the Americans. -a-vis Beijing.

In January, Meyer Burger, Germany’s largest operating solar panel maker, threatened to close its Freiberg, Saxony, plant unless political action was taken immediately to save the industry.

When asked about the situation on Monday (February 5th), Saxon Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU, European People’s Party) blamed the United States for the current unrest and called on Europe to become more independent of Washington in its approach to China.

“The situation is as it is because the US market was closed to Chinese solar panels and the products that were on their way from China to America could not be unloaded there, so the ships were diverted to Rotterdam”explained Mr. Kretschmer to a group of foreign correspondents, including Euractiv.

In a letter to the European Commission last week, the European Solar Industry Council (ESMC) warned that between 140 and 170 million imported solar PV panels are stored in European ports or warehouses, adding that European manufacturers are unable to sell their own panels.

“The problem arises because the United States practices protectionism and we are the ones who suffer from it.”Mr. Kretschmer summarized.

Therefore, although he does not agree on everything with Emmanuel Macron, the German minister-president “he thinks (the French president) is right when he says that we (…) must understand that America has its own economic interests, which are not always ours”.

However, “We depend on America for our defense, we need NATO, we need this alliance, there is no doubt about that”he remarked.

As for trade with China, “Current policies that follow exactly what America is doing may not be the best way forward,” according to him. It therefore rejects the European Solar Industry Council’s calls for new tariffs on Chinese solar panels.

European Commissioner for Financial Services Mairead McGuinness warned in the European Parliament on Monday against the idea of ​​new tariffs on Chinese solar panels. “The EU must have access to affordable solar panels that drive the green transition and unlock economic opportunities.”

“pragmatic solution”

Instead, Mr. Kretschmer called “pragmatic solutions” improve the situation of European producers.

“There is currently a large poster on the Commission building in Brussels RePowerEU — you know, the one with the solar panels »he declared.

“I told Mrs von der Leyen at the time that if she didn’t act now, the European Union would be covered in Chinese solar panels.”he went on to ask the following question: “Is this what we want? »

Like other regional governments, land Saxony recently asked the German federal government to introduce “resilience bonuses”, i.e. additional subsidies given to solar panels made outside of China, such as in Europe or the United States.

A bill on these bonuses is currently being discussed at the national level in Germany, which many believe is the reason for Meyer Burger’s public statement.

According to the IEA, solar energy is booming in Europe

The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that 61% of Europe’s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2028, thanks in part to an unprecedented wave of previously unthinkable solar panel installations.

A similar discussion is taking place at the EU level, with the European Parliament and the Council of the EU nearing the finalization of a regulation for the net zero industry (Net-Zero Industry ActNZIA), which could make these resilience bonuses mandatory in all member states.

Negotiations on the matter are expected to continue – and likely conclude – this Tuesday (February 6).

“We hope that the two bodies will reach an ambitious agreement on this important legislative text during the trialogue on (February 6)”said Commissioner McGuinness on the subject.

It is not the first time that Mr. Kretschmer has deviated from the pro-American line usually taken by his political party, the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU).

In November 2022, Kretschmer said that in order to secure energy supplies, Berlin should “Turn to Russia as soon as this war is over”which provoked strong reactions in the political sphere.

In Saxony, the CDU is polling behind the Alternative for Germany (AfD), a far-right party that is often critical of the United States. A situation that reflects the skepticism towards the United States that still exists in the former East Germany.

(Editing by Anne-Sophie Gayet)

Leave a Comment