Thierry Breton is a vocal supporter of the future EU “Solar Charter” – Euractiv FR

European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton on Tuesday (April 9) voiced his support for the European Solar Charter, which will be signed next Monday (April 15) and aims to stimulate support for EU member state solar panel manufacturers. of states.

Solar panels have become essential for Europe’s energy transformation. In 2023, the EU has installed 56 GW of solar capacity. And yet European manufacturers have difficulty selling their products in the face of foreign competition.

The best ally of European industry seems to be Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, who told MEPs from the Parliamentary Committee on Industry and Energy (ITRE) that the EU “needs a trade policy that pays more attention to market distortions, especially those caused by China”.

Stressing his preference for products made in Europe, Mr Breton confirmed that the EU will sign the “Solar Charter” next Monday (April 15), a document committing EU member states and the Commission to support their domestic producers.

Around 20 EU energy ministers are expected to sign the document – which corresponds to a similar document to support the wind industry signed by 26 countries last December – on the sidelines of the “Energy” Council of 27 relevant EU ministers.

The draft charter, consulted by Euractive, highlights the need “a resilient, sustainable and competitive European solar value chain” and calls on national governments to support new solar power plants and help maintain existing ones.

EU countries are also encouraged to regulate auctions and public markets for solar projects, which may rely on non-tariff criteria such as “responsible business conduct”. In particular, these criteria are codified in the regulation for the “net zero” industry (Net-Zero Industry ActNZIA, in English), which lawmakers will vote on on April 23 before it comes into effect later this year.

The Charter also calls on the Commission to request additional support from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and to examine whether designated solar projects can circumvent state aid rules.

The Charter further calls on the EU executive “evaluate any evidence of alleged unfair practices submitted by industry or other independent sources”. A point expected to be supported by Mr Breton, who last week announced an investigation into two Chinese companies in the solar energy sector.

“The EU Solar Charter will only be as strong as the actions it inspires”said Dries Acke, director of policy at industry association SolarPower Europe, adding that the sector “It needs concrete measures to quickly support manufacturers, especially through durability bonus systems for rooftop solar PV panels, as discussed in Germany and Austria.”.

Tracking in France

In France, the government announced with great fanfare on Friday (5 April) the launch of a “solar pact”. The goal after Brussels is to stimulate the production of photovoltaic panels in France and at the same time increase the rate of deployment in the territory.

The goal is “produce 40% of the photovoltaic panels we use in France by 2030”said Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, who was accompanied by his Industry and Energy Minister Roland Lescure during a trip to Manosque in the south-east of France.

(Editing by Paul Messad)

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