France, Germany vie to sway EU on Chinese EV duties

By Camille Gijs, Jordyn Dahl, Antonia Zimmermann, Hans von der Burchard, Jakob Hanke Vela | 06/11/2024 04:24 PM EDT

Behind-the-scenes rivalry between Paris and Berlin escalates just before Brussels is due to announce provisional duties on Chinese electric vehicles.

A worker polishes an Audi Q8 55 e-tron quattro car on the sidelines of the annual press conference of German car giant Volkswagen (VW) to present the business report, on March 14, 2023, in Berlin.

Germany is resisting French calls to hit Chinese electric vehicles with punitive duties. John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

Germany has launched an 11th-hour bid to avert a full-scale trade war between Europe and China, resisting French calls to hit Chinese electric vehicles with punitive duties.

With a decision by the European Commission imminent, both Paris and Berlin have ramped up their lobbying efforts — with conflicting messages on just how tough Ursula von der Leyen’s executive body should get on Beijing.

The EU executive is expected to inform Chinese EV-makers on Wednesday of temporary duties resulting from its probe into unfair state subsidies. EU member countries would then vote this fall to confirm the duties — making it vital for von der Leyen to pitch them at a level that the bloc’s two heavyweights can live with.


The atmospherics around the announcement are fraught: Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Emmanuel Macron both suffered heavy defeats in Sunday’s European election. The French leader responded by calling a risky general election. Now, von der Leyen needs their support to secure a second term as Commission president.