France reluctant to delay Brexit tariffs on UK-EU electric cars – sources

PARIS (Reuters) – France is reluctant to delay post-Brexit tariffs that are set to hit electric vehicles traded between Britain and the European Union, French government sources said, in a move that could hit carmakers on both sides of the Channel.

Under the EU-UK post-Brexit trade deal, EVs need to have 45% of EU or British content from 2024, with a 50%-60% requirement for their battery cells and packs, or face British or EU import tariffs of 10%.

The problem is that neither carmakers in Britain nor the EU have built up their EV supply chains sufficiently to meet those requirements and have called for the rules to be postponed until 2027.

However, despite French carmakers Renault and Stellantis being bound to be hit by the tariffs, France is reluctant to agree to a delay, because it would amount to reopening a UK-EU deal that took so long to negotiate, two French officials with knowledge of the matter said.

“The ink is barely dry,” one official said on condition of anonymity. “We should be very, very careful with that.”

The official said France was waiting to see how the European Commission assessed the issue. A second French official said German officials were more in favour of delaying the tariffs, but that there was hesitancy in Berlin.

A European Commission spokesperson has said the Brexit deal was the outcome of negotiations in which Britain and the EU agreed to an “overall balance of commitments,” but said issues raised by either side could be examined by bodies set up by the deal.

The EU is reticent about agreeing to Britain’s plea to postpone looming tariffs but carmakers remain optimistic a delay can be agreed, Britain’s auto industry body said last month.

(Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Angus MacSwan)