ProSun draws up legal battle lines

With European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht having dismissed the threat of legal action by pro-tariff solar lobby group EU ProSun on Monday, comments from the latter indicate the lawyers will be busy.

In a press statement released in the wake of De Gucht’s announcement of a breakthrough in the EU-China solar panel trade case on Saturday, EU ProSun’s Milan Nitzschke said any proposal for a minimum module price and cap on import volumes would fail to stand up to a legal challenge to the European Court of Justice.

In the statement, Nitzschke said the reported agreement – details of which have yet to be confirmed by the trade commission – violates EU laws and the decision threatens to derail even more solar firms in Europe.

"European anti-dumping policy 1225/2009 explicitly provides that a suspension of anti-dumping duties shall only be permitted if injury to the European industry can be proven to be prevented by applying minimum import prices," Nitzschke said.

Nitzschke criticized the widely reported minimum module price of €0.56 per watt (US$0.74/W) and import volume cap of 7 GW, adding: "This is almost a guaranteed market for China and a carte blanche to sell at dumping prices. A clear violation of European commercial law."

Provisional duties were already subject to legal complaint

According to EU ProSun, even the current June-August provisional duties were a violation against anti-dumping policy and Nitzschke added European companies have already filed a complaint against it in a lawsuit.

The reported agreement thrashed out on Saturday is a new offense, said Nitzschke, adding: "It is not our intention to block the negotiations but to fight for our rights. The trade case has to be resolved on the basis of applicable law."

He went on to say if this compromise goes through the EU trade defence mechanism will be violated and every European industry, from steel production to the auto industry, cannot be assured they will be protected against dumping and illegal subsidies from trade rivals.

"For Europe’s industrial base that would be devastating," added the EU ProSun spokesman in Saturday’s statement.

Nitzschke was unavailable for comment this morning.

Additional translations by Shamsiah Oettinger.