EU industrial policy, France wants a “new deal” to counter US measures. – The Informant

EU industrial policy, France wants a “new deal” to counter US measures.

Published on 17.1.2023

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire demanded, on Monday January 16, in Brussels a “new deal” in terms of European industrial policy, pleading in particular for massive state aid in green technologies in order to counter the American measures and Chinese.

“I insist on the need to obtain very rapid results on this European industrial policy”, declared the minister, before a meeting with his counterparts from the European Union (EU) on Monday and Tuesday.

The Twenty-Seven are seeking to coordinate before a European summit of Heads of State and Government on 9th and 10th February. In mid-December, they had mandated the European Commission to make proposals by the end of January.

EU countries are trying to find a common response to the serious concerns of industrial circles about the risk of stalling vis-à-vis Asia and the United States, while Europe no longer has access to the cheap energy from Russia.

Bruno Le Maire called for “a shock of simplification” to speed up European aid procedures for industry.

For him, it is necessary to be able to resort to “much more massive state aid”, in the form of subsidies, but also tax credits, for some sectors such as hydrogen, electric batteries, solar panels and semiconductors.

The Frenchman also wanted the public order to be used “to promote European green industrial production”.

However, several member countries are worried about a subsidy race within the EU that would benefit the biggest and richest countries, such as Germany and France.

The framework for State aid has already been greatly relaxed since the start of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think it is important that we respect the single market in all its aspects. State aid rules are there to ensure fair competition,” Irish Minister Michael McGrath said on Monday.

Europeans fear that manufacturers will leave the EU to invest in the United States or China, where energy is cheaper and state aid is abundant.

The pressure on European industrialists is increased by the plan adopted this summer by Washington which provides for 370 billion dollars in investments in favor of the fight against climate change.

Behind the environmental objective, it takes on a protectionist character, with aid reserved for firms established across the Atlantic.

The Chinese have long been accused of supporting their industry through massive subsidies.

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