Steel, solar join forces to march on Brussels

Some prominent individuals and sentiments familiar to solar trade dispute are present in a march that took place today in Brussels, to protest China receiving Market Economy Status. The marchers, organized under the AEGIS Europe banner, argue that Chinese dumping is costing European manufacturing jobs, which would be further aggravated by China’s proposed MES.

“75% of all the EU’s anti-dumping measures already involve China,” said Milan Nitzschke, spokesperson for AEGIS Europe “EU Trade Commissioner Malmström has been swamped by new complaints about unfair Chinese practices in recent weeks. While factories are closing daily across Europe, how can the European Commission openly talk of surrendering MES to China?”

Nitzschke is also the president and spokesperson for EU ProSun, the body leading the charge for antidumping and anti-circumvention measures to be maintained on Chinese solar PV producers. He is also the head of marketing and communications at German solar manufacturer SolarWorld.

The march today and protest at the European Commission building including representatives from 17 EU countries, according to AEGIS Europe.

James Crisp, a news editor for euractiv.com, attended the rally and confirms that it “seems feasible” that “thousands” of protesters took to the streets in Brussels today. Crisp described the mood amongst the protesters as being “celebratory.”

James Watson, the CEO of Solar Power Europe, observed the rally pass by the solar trade body’s headquarters and said that while the European solar trade body does not yet have an official position on China’s MES, that it remains broadly for free trade. He added that it appeared that steel workers comprised the majority of the protesting group.

“Solar Power Europe remains the representative of module manufacturers in Europe, so across the full [PV] value chain,” Watson told pv magazine. “Nobody really knows the membership of EU ProSun, so it’s difficult to comment on whether they are a legitimate voice of module manufacturers. Only one or two [manufacturer members of EU ProSun] are known publically.”

Solar Power Europe says that ten solar PV module manufacturers are members of Solar Power Europe.

Commenting on the confirmation late last week that trade duties will be retroactively applied by EU member states under its anti-circumvention ruling, on Chinese manufacturers exporting to Europe via Malaysia or Taiwan, Solar Power Europe’s Watson said that it continues to support manufacturers “playing within the rules.”

“All [Solar Power Europe] members support the European Commission catching companies that are cheating [the antidumping measures and minimum import price agreement],” said Watson. “If companies are not playing within the rules they need to be punished. For companies that bought unwittingly [from Chinese suppliers found to be circumventing the trade measures], there is quite a substantial bill for them to pay. Solar Power Europe reiterates that the ‘buyer beware’ principle applies.”

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