Heads of State must act immediately to save the European steel industry

euroferlogoBrussels, 16 March 2016 – As the European Commission today launches a Communication on Steel – Preserving Sustainable Jobs and Growth in Europe, the European Council prepares to meet tomorrow to discuss jobs, growth and competitiveness. In light of the Communication, EU leaders must immediately take their responsibility to preserve this vital European sector.

“We welcome the objective and proposal of the Commission Communication to speed up the EU’s ability to react to unfair trade and increase effectiveness of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures. A lot can already be done, even without further legislative changes”, said Axel Eggert, Director General of the European Steel Association (EUROFER).

“The EU’s Trade Defence Instruments’ (TDIs) capabilities must be upgraded substantially. For this, the US must be the benchmark: In the US the gap until the implementation of provisional anti-dumping tariffs is only four-and-a-half months. The EU needs nine months for the same task. Additionally, the US fully applies the calculated anti-dumping margin while the EU uses a Lesser Duty on unfair imports. In recent case on cold-rolled steel products from China the EU measure was as low as 13%, instead of the calculated 60% that could have been applied. The US recently applied an anti-dumping tariff of over 265% on the same product!” stressed Mr Eggert.

A European Commission proposal on TDIs has been on the floor of the Council since 2013, where it has remained blocked by a number of member states.

“Member states should ultimately do more to push through the European Commission’s proposal on the modernisation of the EU’s TDIs. This push must cover everything from the speed of implementation of trade defence measures, to the possibility of the imposition of measures that actually reflect the degree of injury, and to the lifting of the Lesser Duty Rule – among others.”

Mr Eggert added, “In addressing China, the Communication fails to mention that the country needs to meet its obligations under WTO before MES can be granted. To grant MES in the foreseeable future would be premature as China does not meet the EU’s five criteria to be considered a market economy. The Commission must follow through on its support for jobs and growth in the EU, and must not give way to countries that continue to dump on the EU market.”

Finally, Mr Eggert said, “The Commission Communication unfortunately continues to deny the problem of unilateral EU regulatory cost burdens for industry. These costs are not borne by our global competitors. The Commission has missed the opportunity to make a commitment that its proposal on the EU Emissions Trading System avoids leading to costs, at least at the level of the most efficient European steel plants. There is a clear inconsistency in the EU’s objective for competitiveness, growth and jobs if there is not the willingness to secure a global level playing field for even the most efficient companies in Europe. The effect is continued leakage of investment and jobs, as well as rising imports of products with a much higher environmental footprint.”

About the European Steel Association (EUROFER)

EUROFER is located in Brussels and was founded in 1976. It represents the entirety of steel production in the European Union. EUROFER members are steel companies and national steel federations throughout the EU. The major steel companies and national steel federations in Switzerland and Turkey are associate members.

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 320,000 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.

Improving the competitiveness of the European steel industry

Areas for urgent action by which the European steel industry’s competitiveness can be improved include:

  • EU trade policy and MES for China,
  • The EU Emissions Trading System,
  • Better regulation and transparency from the EU institutions,
  • Innovation and investment, and
  • Implementation of the Circular Economy.

By working in these action areas the EU would help safeguard the EU steel industry’s competitiveness, keeping highly skilled steel workers in work and ensuring that the steel industry is able to play its role in underpinning the high-quality supply chains that EU manufacturing industries depend on.

A real sustainable, resource-efficient and low-carbon European economy is only possible with steel and therefore with the above policy measures.

European Commission Communication

The European Commission’s Communication can be found: here