WASHINGTON — French President Emmanuel Macron, kicking off a three-day state visit in the U.S., raised concerns Wednesday to U.S. lawmakers about Biden administration climate policies giving American companies an unfair advantage in the budding green energy sector.
“This is super aggressive to our business people,” Macron said at a luncheon with Congress members and business leaders at the Library of Congress, AFP News Agency reported. He told lawmakers the policies will “kill a lot of jobs” in Europe unless they are synchronized globally.
The French leader’s comments previewed trade talks that are expected to come up during a bilateral meeting Thursday between President Joe Biden and Macron.
More:Biden hosts Macron Thursday for the president’s first state dinner. Here’s what to know.
Why Biden’s incentives for American companies worry Macron
- Macron’s point of contention is Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which the administration is rolling out after it passed Congress this year.
- Biden’s signature climate law includes $369 billion to address climate change including billions in incentives to encourage U.S. companies to build electric vehicles, batteries, solar panels and wind turbines.
- France and other European Union nations have raised concern that the American-centric policies could exclude European companies from the U.S. green energy market.
“I think that this is not in line with the rules of the World Trade Organization and that it is not in line with friendship,” Macron said this month. The disagreement risks sparking a trade war if the EU were to adopt similar policies boosting European firms.
Takeaways of a brewing trade war
The Inflation Reduction Act stands as one of Biden’s most significant legislative accomplishments for ushering in a record level of climate spending.
The president has staked his economic agenda on creating a new era of American jobs through the rapid expansion toward electric vehicles and clean energy.
It’s part of a broader goal for the president to compete with China in sectors in which the U.S. trails. Biden has also pushed to expand the manufacturing of microchips in the U.S. following congressional approval this year of $52 billion in incentives for the semiconductor industry.
Yet the president is finding out that his push for American innovation in the climate sector isn’t so popular overseas.
Biden faces a tough task to address the concerns of Macron and other European leaders while keeping the goals of the Inflation Reduction Act intact.
Macron goes to Washington
- Macron’s meeting on climate and biodiversity with lawmakers included Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., co-chair of the France Caucus, Joe Manchin, D-W.V., Bill Cassidy, R-La., and James Risch, R-Idaho. He will meet with congressional leaders of both parties Thursday afternoon at the Capitol.
- Macron also met with Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday at NASA headquarters in a display of the U.S.-French space partnership that goes back more than 60 years.
- Macron’s visit marks the first official state dinner in the Biden presidency, but it’s not the first time Macron has visited the White House for the pageantry. In 2018, then-President Donald Trump hosted Macron for his first state dinner.
- Biden’s meeting with Macron Thursday will be followed by a joint press conference. The state dinner – a black-tie event that will feature a live performance from singer Jon Batiste – will take place Thursday night.
What they are saying
- Macron, addressing the U.S. climate incentives, told lawmakers, “You will perhaps fix your issue, but you will increase my problem,” according to AFP News Agency. He suggested that exceptions for European companies could be written into the law.
- Discussing climate change more broadly, Macron said France and the U.S. must “deliver together” and announced a summit in Paris this summer to produce “concrete actions.”
- John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council, said the White House has “every expectation” that the Inflation Reduction Act will come up in the Biden-Macron meeting.
- “We welcome that conversation,” Kirby said, pointing to a U.S.-EU task force the president assembled to explore European concerns. “We believe the IRA does historic things to help help foster our transition to a clean energy, environment and economy. And it’s not just a U.S. economic transition. It’s a global transition.”
- Harris, speaking alongside Macron at the NASA headquarters, called France a “vital ally.” Regarding space efforts, she said there is “so much potential” to continue to work together.
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.