Geneva — In a resolute display of unity, France and Germany have reaffirmed their commitment to bolstering cooperation on industrial transformation and defending the European Union (EU) against unlawful trade practices. In response to the EU Commission's announcement of an investigation into Chinese state support for electric vehicles (EVs), the Economy Ministers of both countries, Robert Habeck and Bruno Le Maire, underscored their determination to strengthen cooperation in critical areas such as industrial, energy, and climate policies.
Tackling Unfair Competition
The joint statement by France and Germany comes amid mounting challenges to Europe's role in the global economy and the EU's pursuit of transitioning to a low-carbon economy. Both countries firmly support the EU's probe into allegations of unfair competition by the Chinese government concerning electric vehicle production. Minister Habeck emphasized that safeguarding Europe's interests is paramount, given the numerous subsidies available within the EU.
Coordinated Efforts for Industrial Transformation
France and Germany, strong advocates of the EU's low-carbon economy objectives, aim to revitalize their national industries while collaborating closely. Despite differences in their approaches to energy transition, both nations seek to streamline their access to relevant EU support programs. The recent energy crisis and growing protectionism in international trade have prompted France and Germany to intensify their industrial cooperation.
Minister Habeck stressed the need to redirect the "many subsidies" available within the EU toward supporting industrial transformation. France and Germany are committed to coordinating efforts, reducing regulations, expediting procedures, and aligning with the EU's Net Zero Industry Act. Minister Le Maire highlighted the "close and efficient cooperation" between France and Germany across various domains, including climate action, competitiveness, energy, innovation, and growth.
Challenges and Unity in a Global Economy
In the face of competition from China and the rapidly recovering US economy, France and Germany acknowledge the imperative of uniting to safeguard their positions in global markets. Minister Le Maire emphasized the importance of innovation investments that match those of China and the US. Access to affordable low-carbon energy for all EU member states remains a top priority, ensuring a level playing field with other major economic powers.
While acknowledging historical differences in their energy systems, Minister Le Maire underlined the importance of joint efforts. He supported the EU's investigation into potential violations of international trade laws, emphasizing the principle of "fair competition." Minister Habeck agreed on the necessity of an investigation, emphasizing that inaction is not an option.
Building a Strong Economic and Industrial Foundation
France and Germany advocate for the defense of Europe's economic and industrial interests and envision collaborative projects that reflect their shared clout. They cited successful initiatives such as battery production and plan to expand cooperation in areas like artificial intelligence, solar panel production, space exploration, raw materials, and hydrogen. The power of the Franco-German partnership, combining the strengths of the EU's two largest economies, enhances every member state's ability to navigate the economic challenges of the 21st century.
German Finance Minister Christian Lindner stressed the importance of a solid economic foundation to maintain social standards and ecological ambitions. He called for a review of bureaucratic standards in Europe, flexible adaptation to a changing economic environment, and alignment of national capital markets for the efficient channeling of private capital into transformation projects.
Both France and Germany outlined a joint roadmap for a more robust common capital market across Europe, particularly benefiting small and medium-sized enterprises. Sustainable finance principles will play a significant role in these efforts, fostering a more sustainable and competitive EU economy.
Industrial associations in Germany, such as BDEW and VCI, welcomed the EU Commission's commitment to implementing the EU's Green Deal, particularly in light of the energy crisis and industrial transformation. They emphasized the need to reduce bureaucracy and streamline procedures to overcome obstacles hindering the energy transition.
The joint statement by France and Germany reflects their dedication to fortifying Europe's industrial capabilities, combating unfair trade practices, and fostering a resilient and sustainable economy in the EU.