EU wants to protect its companies against the US and China
With the massive state aid given by the US and China to their strategic industries, the EU has to act swiftly and massively to protect its competitiveness, Charles Michel, president of the European Council, writes in an open letter. Presidents and prime ministers of EU member states meet on 9 and 10 February to define a common industrial policy.
The US IRA (inflation reduction act) continues to send shockwaves through the EU. Massive green subsidies lure big companies to invest in the US. Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo said before he knows about several companies that got proposals to cross the Atlantic.
According to the former Belgian prime minister, Michel, China is also using public funds to strengthen its position in strategic industries. Therefore the EU has to look into ways to change its rules on fair competition.
Charles Michel sees four fields of action. Firstly, the EU rules on state aid have to permit more. “We can’t be naïve”. Aid can also come from the EU, directly from the EU budget or from the relaunch fund that was launched after covid, and that still contains a lot of money. Larger financial solidarity between member states should allow all countries to protect their companies and workers.
Michel also favours the proposal of EU Commission president Von der Leyen and industry commissioner Thierry Breton to set up a financial fund that could support private investment in green energy and new technologies, via the European Investment Bank.
Charles Michel ©BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE