The Commission initiated an anti-subsidy investigation into imports of solar glass from China, based on a complaint lodged by the association EU ProSun Glass, which claims solar glass from China is being subsidised in China and then sold in the EU at prices below market value.
An anti-dumping investigation into imports of solar glass from China is currently ongoing. This proceeding was initiated on 28 February 2013 (MEMO/13/153).
The anti-subsidy investigation could take up to 13 months, although under trade defence rules the EU could impose provisional anti-subsidy duties within nine months if it considers these necessary.
Solar glass is a special glass used mainly, but not exclusively, for the production of solar panels. It is an essential component not just of solar panels, but of many solar energy products.
This investigation has, however, no direct link with the probe related to the imports of solar panels launched by the European Commission last September (MEMO/12/647): it is a stand-alone investigation concerning a clearly distinct product. The EU solar glass market is valued at less than €200m.
Why is the European Commission opening this investigation?
The Commission is legally obliged to open an anti-subsidy investigation when it receives a duly substantiated complaint from EU producers which provides prima facie evidence that exporting producers from one or more countries outside the EU are subsidising a product which is then sold on to the EU market and causing material injury to the EU industry.
EU ProSun Glass, an ad hoc association representing European solar glass manufacturers, lodged just such an anti-subsidy complaint on 14 March 2013 in which it argues that the Chinese exporting producers of solar glass have benefited from a number of subsidies granted by the Government of China. EU ProSun Glass's collective output represents considerably more than the 25% of Union production required by law. EU ProSun Glass is not formally affiliated with EU ProSun, a separate coalition of solar equipment manufacturers which launched the solar panel complaint last year.
The Commission found that the complainant brought sufficient elements showing:
possible subsidies benefiting the exporting producers in China;
injury suffered by the Union industry; and
a possible causal link between the subsidised imports and the injury suffered by the Union industry.
The Commission concluded that there was sufficient prima facie evidence to warrant the opening of an investigation.