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BRUSSELS: The EU on Tuesday approved 2.9 billion euros in subsidies from 12 member states, including Germany and France, to help firms developing new-generation batteries, including Tesla and BMW.

The funding is part of a campaign in Europe to capture more of the battery market that is largely dominated by large Chinese, Korean and Japanese manufacturers. China, in particular, leads the way with half of the world’s sales of electric cars and two-thirds of the world’s battery cell production capacity.

Europe accounts for only three percent of world cell production, a cause for concern for its automobile industry, which has been shaken by competition from Tesla and the rise of Chinese manufacturers. Europe had already approved 3.2 billion euros of aid by the end of 2019 in a separate project involving seven member states.

That first partnership involved 17 companies, including BMW, as well as the German chemical company BASF and Belgium’s Solvay.

In the new project approved on Tuesday, “Germany took the lead to coordinate an even larger group of member states and industry players to deliver the project which we are approving today,” said the European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, at a press conference. The new project, called “European Battery Innovation”, brings together 42 companies until 2028, including the manufacturers BMW, Fiat and Tesla, which is building a major production facility in Germany.

The French chemical company Arkema and the Swedish battery specialist Northvolt are also on board. Covering the entire process from raw materials to recycling, it also includes start-ups and provides for cooperation with numerous research organisations and universities. The public aid is expected to unlock around nine billion euros ($11 billion) in additional private investment, the commission said.

Europe is aiming for 25 percent of the market at the end of the decade, to preserve and create jobs for the future, but also to control supplies in a highly strategic sector.

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