Struggling European manufacturers of solar panels should receive help from the European Union. However, the EU cannot close its borders to cheaper imports.

This is according to European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, who said a ban on imports could compromise the EU's ability to install enough solar energy capacity to meet climate targets.

Most solar panels and parts deployed in Europe are imported from China.

Factory closures

A number of factory closures in Europe have prompted the region's handful of solar panel manufacturers to look for emergency support from Brussels - potentially including trade restrictions on cheap Chinese imports that European companies have struggled to compete with.

"There are different proposals on how we can support our industry, but clearly we cannot close our borders because we need solar panels," Simson told reporters on her arrival at a meeting of EU countries' energy ministers.

"We have to support our industry, but we need all the products to meet our very ambitious targets," she added.

Suggested forms of support include using more national state aid to support solar manufacturers and organising solar auctions and support schemes that uphold solar panels with high environmental and labour standards - criteria that could give EU manufacturers an advantage.