Belgium accuses the US of aggressive play to attract European companies
At Tuesday's meeting in the European Parliament, Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) said that the US was trying to undermine EU industry with the Inflation Reduction Act. According to him, the US would actively approach companies to convince them to cross the Atlantic.
According to De Croo, Belgian chemical and steel companies were approached. However, he said he did not know whether the federal government, US states or private sector investment advisers had done so.
The Belgian prime minister told the Financial Times that the Americans "use the Inflation Reduction Act aggressively to attract investment. So, you could say it's fair game, but then you shouldn't say: 'Oh, we forgot about the impact on Europe'. I think they were very well aware of the impact that it would have."
Furthermore, the Belgian prime minister accused the US of intimidating the Netherlands into banning advanced silicon chip-making equipment exports to China. The US is in talks with the Netherlands and Japan, the other countries that produce machines that make the most advanced chips. "US interests are not always EU interests," De Croo emphasised.
The only answer to the 'unfair' US law is to introduce similar subsidies, De Croo claims. Ilham Kadri, chief executive of Solvay, the Belgian chemicals company, also calls for a 'European IRA'.
In December, Belgian foreign minister Hadja Lahbib (MR) also lashed out at the US. She did so during a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Bucharest, where a NATO meeting was held.
Lahbib told Blinken that the 'Inflation Reduction Act' could encourage a possible relocation of European companies to the United States. She stressed that the consequences of the Inflation Reduction Act could be very damaging for Europe, with the risk of our industries relocating to the United States.
The 'Inflation Reduction Act' is a programme seen by Europeans as protectionist, subsidising green transition in the United States with subsidies reserved for companies based in the US. Although a task force is examining all concerns, modest progress has been made.
© BELGA PHOTO Laurie Dieffembacq