Why the EU and Japan are uniting against Chinese competition

by Admin
Why the EU and Japan are uniting against Chinese competition

This article is an onsite version of our Europe Express newsletter. Premium subscribers can sign up here to get the newsletter delivered every weekday and Saturday morning. Standard subscribers can upgrade to Premium here, or explore all FT newsletters

Good morning. A scoop to start: Chinese President Xi Jinping rebuffed pleas by Russia’s Vladimir Putin to strike a new gas pipeline deal at a bilateral meeting last month, sources told the FT, but did bow to a demand to snub Ukraine’s upcoming peace conference.

Today, our energy correspondent uncovers a EU-Japanese plan to team up against China, and our tech correspondent reveals Brussels’ demand for US social media networks to get serious about Russian election disinformation.

Better together

Brussels and Tokyo plan to align their clean energy policies to prevent cheap Chinese suppliers from further undercutting their manufacturers, writes Alice Hancock.

Context: The EU, burnt by the experience of the near-total loss of its solar manufacturing industry to Chinese competitors in the 2010s, is putting up a tougher fight to prevent other sectors such as wind and hydrogen facing the same fate.

EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson visits Tokyo today and tomorrow for meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and economy minister Ken Saito. According to a draft communiqué seen by the FT, they will agree “to co-operate on supply and demand-side policies in clean energy sectors”.

“We are creating a working group to compare our Net-Zero Industry Act with [Japan’s] own legislation on promoting clean technologies, and making sure we have clean tech supply chains not dominated by one country,” a senior EU official said.

The aim is to make it easier for European and Japanese companies to collaborate — by aligning standards, for example — and thus reduce reliance on cheaper Chinese competitors. The trip comes amid a flurry of EU probes into Chinese companies, which Brussels suspects of benefiting from unfair state subsidies.

Simson will travel with at least 16 senior executives from companies including Daimler, Trafigura, TotalEnergies and Air Liquide, several of whom have been matched with Japanese companies.

One key concern is the hydrogen industry. Europe is currently home to two-thirds of the world’s leading manufacturers of electrolysers required to produce hydrogen from water. EU officials fear that if they do not act soon, that position will be lost.

The Japanese, meanwhile, are keen to promote their own hydrogen industry, which Tokyo sees as key to decarbonise its energy production and automobile sector. Coal-fired power plants make up around a third of the country’s power supply.

Tomorrow, Brussels will also announce a pilot tool to help potential hydrogen buyers find supplies in the embryonic market.

The EU has set itself a target of producing 10mn tonnes each year of renewable hydrogen by 2030, and importing the same amount — though most industry executives see this as unrealistic.

Chart du jour: Linked up

Radical advances in neurotechnology are helping disabled people walk and could provide the link between human and artificial intelligence. But the new advances also raise profound ethical questions.

High alert

Days before the European parliament elections, Brussels has warned large tech platforms that they are underestimating Russia’s efforts to undermine the vote, writes Javier Espinoza.

Context: EU officials are worried about Russia’s ability to meddle in this week’s elections through aggressive disinformation campaigns. The EU has set new safeguards ahead of the vote. In April, Brussels launched a probe into Meta over its handling of Russian disinformation.

But during a trip to the US last week, European Commission vice-president Věra Jourová said Meta and other large online platforms were not doing enough.

“I do recognise efforts by most online platforms to improve the protection of the election information space. But California is far from Russia and I am concerned that the scale of the threat is underestimated here,” Jourová said.

“The Kremlin is working hard to game the systems of online platforms,” she added.

While in California, Jourová met the chief executives of Google, YouTube, X, TikTok and Meta to assess how ready they are to tackle online threats to elections.

She recommended the platforms invest in capacities to better understand the different national risks in the EU, including beefing up content moderation capacities in all EU languages and co-operating more with fact checkers, experts and specialised national agencies. She also suggested they set up hotlines with national governments.

Jourová particularly singled out social media platform X as not doing enough, pointing to recent reports of staff shortages. “I expect more efforts to regain trust of the expert community dealing with countering Russian hybrid threats,” Jourová said.

After Jourová’s visit, X said in a post: “X is steadfast in safeguarding the integrity of elections — and it’s equally critical that a full range of industry sectors are also engaged in this vital work.”

What to watch today

  1. Montenegro’s Prime Minister Milojko Spajić meets EU Council president Charles Michel in Brussels.

  2. EU enlargement commissioner Olivér Várhelyi attends a high-level political forum in Sarajevo.

Now read these

  • Snacks for grandma: As societies around the world age, Nestlé is focusing on developing products targeted to older demographics.

  • Battle for Florence: Why Italian premier Giorgia Meloni is betting on a German art historian to end the left’s control of Florence’s city hall.

  • Rebooting: After a two-year drought, investment into European technology start-ups is picking up again, as venture capitalists raise new funds.

Recommended newsletters for you

The State of Britain — Helping you navigate the twists and turns of Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with Europe and beyond. Sign up here

Chris Giles on Central Banks — Your essential guide to money, interest rates, inflation and what central banks are thinking. Sign up here

Are you enjoying Europe Express? Sign up here to have it delivered straight to your inbox every workday at 7am CET and on Saturdays at noon CET. Do tell us what you think, we love to hear from you: europe.express@ft.com. Keep up with the latest European stories @FT Europe

Source Link

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.