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Remove solar trade measures – AIE signs joint letter to the European Commission

Five years ago, the EU Commission introduced trade defence measures for solar cells and modules, to protect the EU industry from the import of Chinese products sold below market value.

In light of the negative effects that these measures have had on the electrical contracting business, AIE and many AIE members have consistently called for their phase out. Last week, we did this again by signing a letter together with more than 250 EU companies and associations.

On 8 February 2017, the European Commission stated that they would phase out solar trade measures by September 2018 - this letter aims to keep the Commission accountable to their word. It seems that an expiry review of the measures could be requested, which could mean another 12-15 months of the Minimum Import Price (MIP) and solar trade duties, it is therefore crucial to ensure that the Commission sticks to their promise.

These measures have only resulted in reduced demand for solar, lost jobs, and reduced competitiveness. Rather than boosting European production, solar module and cell production has continued to decline in the EU. This is because the trade measures keep the prices of solar artificially high, discouraging the uptake of the technology and reducing overall demand.

For electrical contractors, a decline in the demand for solar in Europe means less jobs and business prospects for local SMEs and contracting companies, which is simply an opportunity that cannot be missed to boost local development and create a better energy system.

“In a 2017 study from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers (DG JUST), the impact of the trade measures on solar self-consumers was assessed. It was found that if the trade measures were to be removed, the increase in uptake of rooftop solar in most of the EU Member States would be some 20-30%, in comparison to their baseline scenario.

If there were to put such an increase in the uptake of solar in Europe, this would lead to an incredible boost in jobs. In fact, according to a 2017 EY Study on‘Solar Jobs & Value Added in Europe,’the removal of the trade measures could result in the creation of more than 40,000 new jobs by 2019 – this is an extremely significant increase as currently only 80,000 people are employed in the European solar sector. Not only this, but the majority of the jobs would be created in the small-scale solar sector, with jobs in installation and maintenance making up the most significant part of these new jobs.

It is therefore clear that the trade measures have not been beneficial to the solar sector and electrical contractors. The European Commission must create a holistic policy that boost the entire value chain, not segmental measure that benefit no one. A strong industrial competitiveness strategy is the best way to accomplish this - such a strategy could create more than 300,000 jobs.

On 3 September 2018, it is therefore crucial that the European Commission sticks to their promise and removes these trade measures. This is not only important for Europe’s energy transition, but is essential to encourage the development of SME’s and local economic growth by creating new and exciting opportunities for electrical contractors across the EU.

Read the full letterhere.’

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