The European Union threatened to impose tariffs on Chinese solar panels after launching an investigation into alleged dumping into the European market. The EU probe, which follows accusations by Germany, Italy, and other EU member states, will cover $26 billion worth of photovoltaic cells and panels to determine whether Chinese manufacturers sold units below cost in Europe, which accounts for three quarters of the global market. Chinese companies went from almost no share of the European solar panel market in 2004 to almost 80 percent in 2012, shutting out European competitors with a "dumping margin of 60 percent to 80 percent," according to EU ProSun's accusations. The company also said that panel prices had fallen by as much as 75 percent since the introduction of cheaper Chinese products, and that labor, which makes up about ten percent of production costs, is China's only competitive advantage. EU might follow the example of the United States, which placed anti-dumping duties as high as 250 percent on the panels earlier this year. China responded to the investigation by warning the bloc that tariffs will hurt the global solar economy. "Protectionist measures would increase the cost of solar energy in Europe and adversely affect European jobs in the solar industry," said a spokesman for Suntech Power Holdings Co., the largest solar panel manufacturer in the world. "Our industry’s mission is to make solar affordable for everyone and we are concerned that trade barriers will only delay the industry from fulfilling this." For the full story, see and