Published on Monday 18 September 2023 | Article n°457
The State of the European Union speech showed better than anything what the Commission has become: a self-congratulation that will stun economic and social players who are facing serious problems, especially from China. Photovoltaic manufacturers in the European industry will be curious to know that the President remembers the invasion of Chinese panels around 2010, but that she is not announcing anything, even though they are in a comparable situation.
They will be astonished that a committee of enquiry has been set up into Chinese practices in the field of electric vehicles, when their habit is to develop an economic sector extensively and then invade foreign competitors at low cost. By the time the Commission has established this method, manufacturers will have something to worry about.
Having failed to come up with any response to China's attitude, which was its primary role, the Commission has taken it upon itself to look after Europeans, by introducing directives, standards and administrative measures.
An empty State of the Union speech, full of hype, forgetting the problems of the momentA political speech is usually of little interest, but this one was a summit of its kind.
Yet the Commission had been alerted to the difficulties facing the photovoltaic industryA few days before this speech, a sector of the economy was crying out in dismay, but the Commission was not listening.
Is this a concerted and deliberate move to destroy what remains of the European photovoltaic industry? The Chinese played on the end of the van der Leyen presidency, on Europe's passivity, on the surprise that their action would provoke. The result is indisputable. Will there be any survivors to this Chinese offensive?
Having failed to develop a geopolitical strategy, the Commission has fallen back on administrative measures: still believing in free trade, refusing to see any discrepancy between Europe's attitude and developments in the rest of the world, having failed to draw up a geopolitical strategy, and having nothing to do with the Chinese offensive.With no strategy, and nothing else to do, the Commission was bent on regulating, drawing up internal directives and establishing administrative standards,
The Commission did not realise the life it was imposing on Europeans.Everything has become more complex, more bureaucratic, more fussy. The time lost is no longer counted in resolving formalities, to the detriment of work, dynamism and the future.
An empty, promotional State of the Union address, forgetting the problems of the moment
The State of the Union address by the President of the European Commission leaves a bizarre impression. It is a catalogue of assertions, self-justification and pirouettes. She asserts the success of everything that has been undertaken. You have to look far to find a few lines mentioning the damage caused by China to the European economy. She manages to say that Chinese competition is not fair. She says that she remembers the destruction of the photovoltaic industry around 2010, and very quickly moves on to the car industry and the coming competition from Chinese electric vehicles. To take action, she has announced a commission of enquiry into the aid and subsidies that the Chinese industry is allegedly receiving. This is a repeat of the Theodule Commission of the 3rd and 4th Republics, designed to bury a problem.
Yet the Commission had been alerted to the difficulties facing the photovoltaic industry.
Its overview of the problems, its neglect of the difficulties in the photovoltaic sector, its lack of interest in the industrial problems have been swept under the carpet as if it didn't know about them, or as if it was neglecting them. Yet a few days earlier, she had received an open letter from the European Solar Industry Association, sounding the alarm. Did she even read it? Had it ignored the abundant supply of solar panels in Europe in 2022 (double the year's installations). This should have alerted the decision-makers, because sooner or later these panels would have to be sold. However, this supply was made at 2022 panel prices ($0.26/W on 28 September, $0.22/W at the end of December), well above current prices ($0.15 per watt).
This raises the problem of determining who is going to suffer the financial loss, because we don't know the conditions of supply: have Chinese manufacturers forced the hand of European importers to accept these excess goods? Did they already have plans to flood the European market, which absorbs almost 60% of Chinese exports, in order to take advantage of the end of the Van der Leyen presidency, which ends next June? Did they think that this figure would not take any initiative towards China, having already backed down on the introduction of a European border for polluters andCO2 emitters? This is one of the many measures she has announced but never followed through on.
Is this a concerted and deliberate move by the Chinese to destroy what's left of the European photovoltaic industry?
Did they have in mind the fall in prices that followed the collapse in the price of silicon? Were they afraid of seeing a European competitor set up shop, given that numerous projects were being promoted by both the Brussels authorities and the private sector?the inertia of the Brussels authorities in his project to set up a cell and panel production unit in Germany, since he was refused any subsidy)?
At a time when the President of the Commission is addressing the entire population of the European Union, there is not a single word in her defence of the photovoltaic industry, or even to mention this issue.industry, or even to mention this problem, or even to equate the clean-up of the solar industry with the announced invasion of Chinese electric vehicles! As if the Chinese approach were not the same: considerably increase production capacity, receive aid and subsidies, lower prices, then flood foreign markets at low prices!
Having failed to develop a geopolitical strategy, the Commission has fallen back on administrative measures.
How can it claim to be taking action when it has done nothing over the last four years to combat the flood of Chinese products? What strategy has it adopted? Now that it has shown its weakness, or rather its passivity, it will be easy for the Chinese to react if Brussels takes any firm decisions! They will threaten French cheeses and wines, German machinery, Italian products, European aircraft... Brussels has tied its hands and dragged Europeans along with it!
As no doctrine of European sovereignty was drawn up during its presidency, the new Commission will have to take up the issue from July 2024 onwards, develop a strategy and grope around to find the right measure, the right adjustment, the right response.
Since the Van der Leyen Commission was unable to react and had no long-term strategy, it was busy regulating and installing so many idiotic administrative measures.
The Commission did not realise the life it was imposing on Europeans.
The list is long. In the financial field alone, it has introduced quarterly checks on the status of people who have had a bank account with the same institution for twenty years (can we say that this is essential?). It has introduced quarterly password changes for nothing, just to access one's bank account, even for small accounts (those of almost all customers).
In its desire to control, it overlooked the difficulties and time lost if you forgot to write down one of the many password changes imposed on you each quarter. Why has she made it compulsory to justify the beneficiaries in a company when they've been the same people for forty years! Or a request for a Kbis certificate less than three months old (to show that the company is registered with the commercial register), which means that a document four or six months old can be refused! when the company has been in existence for several decades.
What can we say about the banking constraints that allow banks to reconstitute a guaranteed and autonomous space? They have acquired so much freedom that they no longer need to advertise to attract customers. The Commission has given them the right to manage their customer base as they see fit. Customers can no longer change banks because of SEPA direct debits, bankcards, the dematerialisation of money and unnecessary formalities. The Commission has succeeded in reconstructing a frozen world. It is to be congratulated for having succeeded in freezing competition, even though its aim was to increase it!
The Commission is determined to occupy all the gaps in everyday life. For example, a European country has to ask Brussels for the right to issue certificates to make up the difference in a small-scale photovoltaic tender. Everything has to go through Brussels. But these commissioners are not elected but appointed by the European governments in power. There is collusion between them, to the detriment of the public.
The result is that, between the lack of strategic decisions that are going to cost the photovoltaic industry its life, the lack of a firm stance towards the Chinese competitor, the administrative measures deThe result is that, between the lack of strategic decisions that will cost the photovoltaic industry its life, the absence of a firm stance towards the Chinese competitor, and the administrative measures introduced to take up people's time, fill in paperwork or find solutions to everyday problems, the daily lives of Europeans have become increasingly complex. It has become dehumanised. The result is that the time spent sorting out paperwork is time lost to survive in national or international competition, to work, to earn money, to lead a professional life.
I hope that the various Commissioners, and in particular the first of them, will receive the medal due to them for good and loyal service to the Americans and the Chinese.ricans and the Chinese, i.e. the Presidential Medal of Freedom (American) or the Order of Freedom (Chinese). They have succeeded in hindering European dynamism. They really have earned it. They are to be warmly congratulated.