EU cannot close borders to solar imports, energy chief says – Yahoo News UK

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By Kate Abnett

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -The European Union should support struggling European manufacturers of solar panels, but cannot close its borders to imports of such products, EU energy policy chief Kadri Simson said on Monday.

Factory closures among Europe’s few solar panel makers have prompted the industry to seek emergency support from Brussels – potentially including trade restrictions on cheap Chinese imports that European companies have struggled to compete with.

However, Simson ruled out cutting off imports, which she said could compromise the EU’s ability to install enough solar energy capacity to meet climate targets. Most solar panels and parts deployed in Europe are imported from China.

“There are different proposals how we can support our industry, but clearly we cannot close our borders because we need solar panels,” Simson told reporters on her arrival to a meeting of EU countries’ energy ministers.

“We have to support our industry, but we need all the products to meet our very ambitious targets,” she added.

EU countries’ energy ministers will discuss proposals to address the sector’s challenges on Monday.

The suggestions, which Simson and EU industry commissioner Thierry Breton detailed in a letter to the ministers ahead of the meeting, include using more national state aid to support solar manufacturers, and organising solar auctions and support schemes that support solar panels with high environmental and labour standards – criteria that could give EU manufacturers an edge.

Companies installing solar capacity could also commit to including EU-made products in their portfolios, said the letter, seen by Reuters. It suggested ministers jointly agree to take up some of the proposals at one of their upcoming EU meetings.

EU countries installed record levels of solar capacity last year, 40% more than in 2022. Most of those panels and parts came from China – in some cases, 95%, International Energy Agency data show.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett, editing by Bart Meijer and Louise Heavens)

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