Brussels, 24 November 2015 – The Extraordinary Competitiveness Council of 9 November convened to discuss the worsening crisis in the European steel industry. That fruitful discussion delivered a number of promising goals. Today, the industry calls on the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee (INTA) and Foreign Affairs (FAC) Council to move the EU from words towards action.
“The Extraordinary Competitiveness Council came to a number of significant conclusions. It touched on the competitiveness of the steel sector, in particular: global competition including trade policy tools, relaunching investment projects, EU climate policy and high energy costs,” said Axel Eggert, Director General of EUROFER.
“Having identified the challenges, the steel industry needs policy makers to make concrete moves to put into effect the Presidency’s conclusions. Those conclusions included commitments to make full and timely use of the full range of EU trade policy instruments to ensure a global level playing field as regards the steel sector, and to take a constructive approach when it comes to the modernisation of Trade Defence Instruments to further streamline and expedite their operation, increase transparency, predictability, effectiveness and enforcement,” added Mr Eggert
Trade policy tools are Europe’s main and best defence against unfairly dumped steel, which has flooded the European market in recent months and is one of the most immediate causes of recent closures and redundancies across the continent.
Mr Eggert said, “While the Extraordinary Competitiveness Council correctly identified trade as an immediate focus, we welcome that they also touched upon R&D investment, State Aid guidelines, and on the reform of the Emissions Trading System. – alongside a call for a special High Level stakeholders’ conference to consider more coordinated policy responses.”
“As INTA and FAC are responsible for trade policy, it is vital that they are able to make progress on the discussions begun at the Extraordinary Competitiveness Council,” added Mr Eggert.
This includes addressing the issue of Market Economy Status for China (MES). China is presently considered to be a non-market economy for the purpose of anti-dumping investigations. If MES were to be granted, Europe’s main anti-dumping tools would become ineffective, exposing the steel industry even further to unfairly dumped Chinese steel.
“China has an overcapacity of at least 340 million tonnes – more than twice total EU steel production. Chinese imports of dumped steel have exploded in the last two years, more than doubling in that time. Given Europe’s gaping trade deficit with China (around €140 billion in 2014), China has much to gain and Europe has much to lose from MES. There needs to be open and frank discussion between policy makers about what granting this status to China would mean for the survival of European industry,” stressed Mr Eggert.
INTA is meeting in camera with Commissioner Malmström on 24 November, with the FAC meeting taking place on 27 November.
About the European steel industry
The European steel industry is a world leader in innovation and environmental sustainability. It has a turnover of around €170 billion and directly employs 330,000 highly-skilled people, producing on average 170 million tonnes of steel per year. More than 500 steel production sites across 24 EU Member States provide direct and indirect employment to millions more European citizens. Closely integrated with Europe’s manufacturing and construction industries, steel is the backbone for development, growth and employment in Europe.
Steel is the most versatile industrial material in the world. The thousands of different grades and types of steel developed by the industry make the modern world possible. Steel is 100% recyclable and therefore is a fundamental part of the circular economy. As a basic engineering material, steel is also an essential factor in the development and deployment of innovative, CO2-mitigating technologies, improving resource efficiency and fostering sustainable development in Europe.