The European Commission has imposed heavy anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar panels amid strong opposition from Berlin and Beijing.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht announced that the tariffs, which will come into effect from Thursday, are provisional for the next six months until the end of a full investigation in December, when member states will vote on whether to impose permanent duties.

De Gucht said Chinese dumping of solar exports is “clearly” harming the European solar panel industry after finding they were being sold at up to 88% below cost in the EU market.

He said the measures were not protectionist but rather within the EU’s rights under international trade law to protect its interests.

“I want a fair solution with China,” De Gucht said, adding that Tuesday’s decision opened the way to negotiations. “The ball is now in China’s court,” he added.

The decision comes in spite of strong opposition from Germany and dire warnings from Beijing that it trigger a broader trade war.

The EU and China are locked in a series of trade disputes, ranging from solar panels and telecoms for Brussels, to chemicals and steel tubes for Beijing, reports AFP.