Inicio EV German car lobby chief criticises von der Leyen’s solo run on Chinese...

German car lobby chief criticises von der Leyen’s solo run on Chinese EVs

German car lobby chief criticises von der Leyen's solo run on Chinese EVs

The decision to open an anti-subsidy investigation against Chinese electric cars was not sufficiently coordinated with Berlin, a managing director of the German car industry association VDA said on Thursday (11 April), criticising von der Leyen’s solo effort.

During her ‘State of the Union’ speech in September 2023, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced an anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers, which could lead to new tariffs on Chinese EV imports.

The German car industry has met the investigation with scepticism from the outset, as it fears potential retaliation measures against its products by China, which is the world’s largest car market.

Andreas Rade, managing director of the German Automotive Industry Association VDA, has now also criticised the procedure for not coordinating sufficiently with EU capitals.

“As far as I know, this procedure was not a joint project between Berlin and Paris, so to speak, but was initiated by Brussels in the meantime in the context of a candidature,” Rade said on Thursday at an event of the Green group in the German parliament.

He added, “That is why there was no consensus on the procedure at the European level, I believe, which is not a good signal.”

Only a week before the investigation’s official announcement, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD/S&D) had loudly welcomed Chinese manufacturers to the European market, arguing that “fair competition […] is in the interest of consumers.”

The French government, on the other hand, is a supporter of a tougher stance against Chinese competitors and has launched its own national EV support scheme that includes sustainability criteria to exclude Chinese manufacturers.

Chantal Kopf, German MP and speaker for the Greens in the German Bundestag, also defended the step on Thursday.

“It is clear that the German automotive industry is and should remain an export industry. And that is why it is understandable that there are great sensitivities about possible trade policy tensions and countermeasures,” Kopf said. 

“At the same time, of course, if there is a suspicion that China is engaging in practices that distort competition and jeopardise Europe as a business location, then it is absolutely legitimate and even necessary for a corresponding investigation to be initiated,” she added.

[Edited by Donagh Cagney/Alice Taylor]

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