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Von der Leyen during her State of the EU address

Photo: Yves Herman / REUTERS

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is launching a competition inquiry into state support for electric cars from China. "The price of these cars is artificially depressed by huge state subsidies – this distorts our market," von der Leyen said during her State of the EU speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. This is unacceptable. World markets would be flooded with cheaper Chinese electric cars.

An anti-subsidy investigation can lead to the imposition of punitive tariffs, for example. Measures are currently underway in several sectors of the economy to reduce the EU's dependence on countries such as China and to protect domestic companies. In March, for example, the EU Commission presented a proposal for a law on the supply of raw materials. The aim is to ensure that the Community does not remain dependent on imports from individual countries such as China for key raw materials.

China's state support for its manufacturers of electric cars has been a problem for European companies for some time. Europe is open to competition, but not to an unequal race to the bottom, von der Leyen said. "We have to defend ourselves against unfair practices."

At the same time, she stressed that it is essential to remain in dialogue with China. There are issues on which we need to work together. At a planned EU-China summit this year, she will take the view that risks should be minimized, but not decoupled.

In another point of her speech, Von der Leyen promised accelerated approval procedures for wind turbines. This is part of a "package for wind power in Europe", which her authority will develop "with industry and member states".

This package will also include, for example, a reform of the auction systems for new wind turbines. Brussels will also work to create technical skills in Europe, ensure access to finance for companies and support supply chains for materials.