The European Commission, the EU's executive, accused Chinese firms of selling solar panels at below cost in Europe – a practice known as “dumping” – and planned to impose duties, making it far harder for China to gain market share.
But fearful of losing business in China, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands are among at least 14 member states who have opposed the sanctions.
The duties, averaging 47 per cent, will come into force from June 6 for a trial period and could be withdrawn if both sides can reach a settlement.
The duties are being proposed by the EU’s trade commissioner, Belgian lawyer Karel De Gucht, who met with Chinese Vice-Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan for an informal meeting in Brussels yesterday.
The Commission said China was pressuring some EU countries to oppose the duties. “Commissioner De Gucht ... made it very clear to the Vice-Minister that he was aware of the pressure being exerted by China on a number of EU member states,” the Commission stated.