The European Commission has proposed a tough 47pc “anti-dumping” tariff to penalise the imports, it emerged on Wednesday.
The move would benefit European manufacturers, who allege their Chinese rivals – whose panels are as much as 45pc cheaper – are unfairly subsidised by Beijing.
Chinese solar panel production quadrupled between 2009 and 2011, exceeding global demand, and EU manufacturers say China has now captured 80pc of the European market.
However, action against the Chinese imports is fiercely opposed by European solar panel installation companies which have thrived on the cheap supply and claim that hundreds of thousands of jobs could be at risk.
On Wednesday night Britain said it was “working hard to ensure the Commission’s response, and any measures imposed, are proportionate and take account of wider effects on the industry”.