MEPs representing all of the major groups in the European Parliament have called on the European Commission to end trade restrictions on Chinese solar products.
There are currently anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties applied on cells and modules from China unless the manufacturer in question agrees to and respects a minimum import price (MIP) and an annual quota.
Swedish MEP Christofer Fjellner, of the centre-right European People’s Party group, organised the letter.
“Free trade and the environment go hand in hand,” he said. “With the EU's very ambitious climate targets, EU trade policy should do everything it can to help reach those goals. But by restricting free trade and imposing a high minimum import price on solar panels, we are making it more difficult for ordinary citizens and businesses to do their part in reducing carbon emissions. That's why I hope the commission will keep its promise to abolish anti-dumping duties and the minimum import price in December.”
The trade tariffs began in December 2013 for a two-year period. The commission is currently investigating whether to extend the duties or to end them. It is assumed that the price undertaking agreement, and with it the MIP, that was negotiated by the commission and the Chinese government would remain in place if duties are extended.
The letter argues that by removing the MIP and other restrictions, solar deployment, and the number of associated jobs in Europe, would both increase.
The letter, signed by 14 MEPs argues that all parts of the solar value chain, including manufacturing will benefit from the removal of the trade defence measures. They were imposed after the Commission found evidence of unfair subsidies and dumping practices among Chinese importers.
The MIP is of particular interest for the UK market given proposals to cut the feed-in tariff by 87%. Removing the MIP would feasibly lead to a reduction in the price of installations, allowing installers to drive higher margins.
Energy secretary Amber Rudd said during an oral and topical questions session in the House of Commons last month that the MIP remained on her department's radar, while the Renewable Energy Association noted that a removal of the MIP could help solar transition towards grid parity.