Solar panel imports have become a white-hot topic for EU policy-makers in recent months. According to some member states, Chinese firms are unfairly undercutting rivals and selling their solar panels to customers below cost - a practice known as 'dumping'. But according to others, these cut-price products are perfectly fair and legal.
Now, EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht wants to put an end to the dumping, and proposes adding levies averaging 47% on the solar panels. A pretty radical step to protect the manufacturing of the energy panels in the EU. These provisional duties are set to take effect from 6 June until December when the levy will be up for review. Both sides can then negotiate for a new settlement.
This protectionist move is a pretty big deal. Not only could it set a precendent for banning the import of super-cheap Chinese-made goods (indeed, it looks like the telecoms sector is next), but it has also opened a can of political worms regarding the relationship between certain member states and China.