Romania: Chinese companies exit solar tender after EU probe

Two Chinese solar panel manufacturers have withdrawn from a public procurement tender in Romania after the EU launched a foreign subsidy probe. The European Commission started an investigation in April into two consortiums suspected of receiving subsidies that Brussels feared would undercut rivals in Europe. 

After the Chinese-owned firms withdrew their bid, the commission said it would “close its in-depth investigation.“.

The probe was launched under new rules that came into force last year and seek to prevent foreign subsidies from undermining fair competition in the EU. “We are massively investing in the installation of solar panels to decrease our carbon emissions and energy bills, but this should not come at the expense of our energy security, our industrial competitiveness, or European jobs,” the EU’s internal market commissioner, Thierry Breton, said.

The new rules ensure “foreign companies that participate in the European economy do so by abiding by our rules on fair competition and transparency,”  he added. But the China Chamber of Commerce to the EU slammed the rules “as a tool of economic coercion,” which left the Chinese companies with “no commercially prudent options but to withdraw.”.

The CCCEU claimed the Chinese companies faced more scrutiny than other non-EU firms and said the withdrawal “hampers” the EU’s “green transformation efforts.”.

One of the two consortiums targeted in the probe includes the Enevo group in Romania and a German subsidiary of Chinese parent company Longi Green Energy Technology.

Longi, the world’s biggest solar panel manufacturer, said it remained “fully committed to working with its partners in Europe” to ensure the continent “can meet its ambitious renewable energy and climate goals.”

The second consortium was made up of two subsidiaries, both fully controlled by a Chinese state-owned firm, Shanghai Electric Group. They had applied to design, construct, and operate a photovoltaic park in Romania, partly financed by EU funds.

The estimated value of the contract was around 375 million euros.

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