EU opens investigation into China’s generous subsidies for its electric cars

The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announced on Wednesday the opening of an investigation into Chinese public subsidies for electric automobiles to defend the European industry in the face of “artificially low prices”.

“World markets are today flooded with Chinese electric cars cheap, including the price is kept artificially low through mive public subsidies, said Ursula von der Leyen, in a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Europe is open to competition. Not a race to the bottom. »

However, she pleaded for a “dialogue” with Beijing. Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis will also visit China next week “to discuss trade and economic opportunities and challenges”.

In France, a reform of subsidies to come

For its part, France is preparing a reform of subsidies for electric cars, which should soon be subject to an “environmental score” likely to limit Chinese imports.

VIDEO. “I am honored”: Julien, first French owner of a Chinese electric car from BYD

The French Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire recently called for “evolving” European rules so that the EU better defends its interests.

At the end of August, he called for a “European bonus reserved for industrial products with European content”, during a meeting in Paris with French bosses. “This is what China does, this is what the United States does, this is what I still cannot do in Europe because of European standards,” he regretted.

In her annual speech to MEPs gathered in plenary session, Ursula von der Leyen also insisted on the environmental policy of the Twenty-Seven. She wants to “stay the course” on the Green Deal (several texts to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions) while guaranteeing “a just and equitable transition”, while EU environmental regulations are the subject of increasing resistance.

“When it comes to the European Green Deal, we remain ambitious, we do not deviate from our growth strategy. And we will always be committed to ensuring a just and equitable transition.”

Inflation, a “challenge” for the continent

The President of the European Commission also announced a series of upcoming measures in favor of wind energy, emphasizing the need to speed up the issuance of permits.

On the economic side, she recognized that the return to the objective of 2% inflation in the euro zone “will take time”, seeing in “the persistence of high inflation” a “ great economic challenge” for the continent. “Christine Lagarde and the European Central Bank are working tirelessly to curb inflation », she greeted, on the eve of an expected decision on a maintenance or a further increase in the monetary institution’s interest rates.

The annual inflation rate in the 20 euro zone countries stood at 5.3% in August, after reaching 10.6% in October 2022. But the rise in consumer prices still remains well above of the medium-term objective of 2% set by the ECB. And the ebb promises to be slow and difficult.

Ukraine’s “big steps forward” to join the EU

To defend her record, Ursula von der Leyen also mentioned the Ukrainian issue. According to her, Ukraine has made “great progress” on the path to its accession to the European Unionsaid the President of the European Commission on Wednesday in Strasbourg.

Faced with this progress, “it is now time to rise up up to this determination. And that means thinking about how to prepare ourselves to form a more complete Union. »

Several European leaders are questioning whether or not it is necessary to reform European institutions so that they can be effective in a Union of 30 or even more member states.

On this subject, Ursula von der Leyen called for “going beyond simplistic debates”: “The question is not to choose between deepening integration or enlarging the Union. We can, and we must, do both. »

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