European Industries Threatened By Imports Of Cheap EVs

By Thea Felicity

Feb 22, 2024 12:46 PM EST

(Photo : Photo by JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/AFP via Getty Images)
A member of the National Federation of Farmers' Unions (FNSEA) holding the union's flag walks past a French gendarme during a blockage of the Intermarché food logistics site in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier on February 21, 2024.

Renault CEO Luca de Meo recently called for coordinated action from European industrial nations in response to the threat posed by cheap foreign electric vehicles. 

Interestingly, in contrast to the substantial subsidies in the United States and the robust industrial strategy in China, Europe's approach appears limited to "deadlines and fines." Therefore, lacking the proactive measures needed to safeguard its industries.

As noted by The Telegraph, De Meo's plea reflects a growing concern that Europe's transition to net zero, while noble in its environmental aspirations, risks undermining the competitiveness of its industries. 

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Why European Industries Are At Risk

The surge in imports of inexpensive electric vehicles from China threatens to disrupt European automotive manufacturers, once leaders in the global market.

From this, the clash between Europe's net zero goals and its economic imperatives becomes increasingly apparent. While initiatives like banning the sale of petrol cars by 2035 align with environmental targets, they also restrict the region's ability to respond effectively to cheap imports through measures like tariffs. 

Now, this conundrum highlights the need for a nuanced approach that balances environmental sustainability with economic resilience.

Moreover, the implications extend beyond the automotive sector.

Industries across Europe, from chemicals to engineering, face similar challenges as they grapple with rising energy costs, regulatory constraints, and intense competition abroad. 

The recent "Antwerp declaration," signed by 73 major companies, underscores the urgent need for policy reforms to preserve Europe's industrial base.

Europe must reassess its approach as China strategically leverages net zero objectives to bolster its industrial leadership. A comprehensive reset involving strategic protection of key industries, measures to enhance competitiveness, and realistic emission reduction targets are necessary. 

For CEOs and other executives, the time to act is now, lest Europe faces irreversible deindustrialization and loss of economic sovereignty in the face of global competition.

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