European Parliament calls for end to solar MIP, duties

In a letter to Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, MEPs – representing all the major political groups in the European Parliament – have urged the European Commission to end the MIP and duties, imposed on solar PV products from China in 2013, this December 7, as currently scheduled.

The 14 MEPs argue that the restrictions have negatively impacted the European solar sector, and have contributed to its slowdown, both in terms of installations and jobs.

"The current situation has seen the levels of solar installations drop dramatically in Europe, from 17 GW in 2012 to under 7 GW in 2014," they wrote. "This has impacted jobs in the solar sector, falling from 265,000 in 2011 to around 120,000 in Europe today. We believe that European duties on Chinese solar products, and the price undertaking, contributed to this slowdown in annual growth of installations in Europe."

Supporting the move, James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe, commented, "This unprecedented letter from all the main groups in the European Parliament demonstrates the political support that exists for ending the MIP in December, as planned. We welcome the initiative of MEP Christofer Fjellner and all his colleagues from all the different Groups in the European Parliament, and call on the European Commission to recognise and act on the concerns raised in the MEPs letter."

EU ProSun, which initiated the anti-subsidy and anti-dumping complaint against Chinese PV manufacturers in the EU, is, unsurprisingly not pleased with the MEPs initiative. "SolarPower Europe has even convinced the MEPs that the anti-dumping measures have broken the European market," Milan Nitzschke president of EU ProSun told pv magazine. The market was already broken a year before the introduction of the measures, and this was solely due to the political decisions in the EU member states, where solar subsidies were, often, dramatically cut, he continued.

EU ProSun has already asked for an expiry review of the undertaking. The EU Commission in Brussels has until December 7 to decide if it will open a procedure. If it is opened, MIPs, import restrictions and existing duties would continue to apply.

"At the moment, it’s not about the yes or no of the undertaking, but rather the opening of an investigation, as is enshrined in the anti-dumping policy of the EU," said Nitzschke. The testing review is then the right place for the advantages and disadvantages to be investigated and analyzed, he stated, adding, "However, only when the proceedings have opened."

Nitzschke went on to invite the politicians who signed the letter on a journey to the U.S., where there are currently tighter anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures in place on Chinese solar PV manufacturers and yet the market is growing.

With regards to SolarPower Europe, Nitzschke said he wished the association would show the same commitment to improve conditions for PV in Europe, as it did in the MIP debate. "The same MP signatures behind a demand for an ambitious promotion of renewable energies, binding EU targets and strains on loads for sel-consumption, would maybe change something for solar energy in Europe. But SPE has apparently lost its focus in favor of anti-dumping," he concluded.

The MEPs letter comes just two weeks after 21 national solar associations and organizations also called for an end to the restrictions, also in a letter to Commissioner Malmström. "Removing the MIP and duties, as planned, will support the European solar sector to be a key component of Europe’s carbon-neutral electricity supply. This will also help consumers, who are at the heart of the European Energy Union plan, to purchase quality products at market prices. This can drive more investment in solar," they stated.