Macron: Are US Climate Plans a Threat to Europe?

December 1, 2022

Financial Times (paywall):

Emmanuel Macron warned that the US risked “fragmenting the west” with a flagship climate law that the French president said would distort competition by massively subsidising American companies to the detriment of European industries. The harsh words, which came on the first day of his state visit to Washington hosted by president Joe Biden, could weigh on the discussions between the leaders on Thursday.

In a speech on Wednesday night at the French embassy in Washington, Macron said while he agreed with the objectives of Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, it would have negative repercussions for Europe by making it less attractive for companies to invest there. “The choices of the past few months, in particular the IRA, are choices that will fragment the west,” he said. “We need to co-ordinate and re-synchronise our policy agendas.”

The law offers roughly $400bn worth of incentives to finance the transition to green energy, including subsidies for electric cars manufactured in the US and tax credits to promote industries such as renewable energy and batteries. Earlier in the day at a closed-door lunch held at Congress with executives and lawmakers, Macron called the IRA “super aggressive for our companies”, according to comments reported by Agence France-Presse and confirmed by a person present. “Perhaps this law will solve your problems but it will make mine worse,” he said, adding that many jobs would be destroyed.

French officials said discussions were under way with their US counterparts about possible remedies that would help avoid competitive distortions in green industries such as electric cars and renewable energy.

One option would be for the US to add the EU to the list of countries whose products can qualify for subsidies, similar to how Mexico and Canada are treated because of existing trade agreements, the officials said. Macron has also called on the EU to pass a so-called “Buy European Act” that would offer similar subsidies to local industries. Other countries such as Germany are less supportive of the idea.

The Hill:

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday that the White House had heard Macron’s comments and is prepared to talk about the issue.  

“There’s a number of provisions that will contribute to the growth of clean energy sector globally.  And that is important to note. It presents significant opportunities for European firms, as well as benefits to EU energy security. And this is not a zero-sum game for us. And so, we see a constructive path of engagement with the EU on this,” Jean-Pierre said in a press briefing


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