EU’s Breton: EU will not remain passive on U.S. subsidies

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European Commissioners Vestager and Breton hold a news conference in Brussels

BERLIN (Reuters) – The European Union will take action on new U.S. subsidies to protect European competitiveness, the commissioner for the bloc’s internal market told an industry conference in Berlin on Tuesday.

“We can’t stay inactive and will not,” Thierry Breton said.

The European Union and the United States have launched a task force to discuss Washington’s Inflation Reduction Act, a $430-billion bill to support industry while fighting climate change.

The bill includes tax breaks conditional on U.S-manufactured content – which have raised fears of unfair competition in the 27-member EU.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the U.S. act wasn’t entirely bad news, describing U.S. investment in green technologies as an opportunity for Germany as an export nation.

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However, “the problem arises when … competition-distorting rules influence future decisions on where to be based,” Habeck said in his opening speech at the conference, calling for a robust European response in the coming weeks.

(Reporting by Christian Kraemer and Rachel More; Editing by Madeline Chambers)