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Europe's steel industry needs a level playing field to survive

Granting China MES would undermine the viability of EU steel industry

Europe's steel industry is the basis for many industrial sectors and the lifeline for economic and social welfare in many regions in Europe. In addition to the economic crisis hitting the steel industry hard, the flood of unfairly traded steel imports has driven down steel prices and decimated the European steel industry. "Enough is enough. We have to save our steel.  We have to show our "true mettle" in Europe and fight to keep European domestic production and safeguard our European industrial base", said Andrés Barceló, rapporteur of the EESC opinion on "Steel: Preserving sustainable jobs and growth in Europe". "It is time to restore a level playing field for Europe's steel industry." The opinion was adopted at the EESC plenary session on 14th July.

The EESC calls for a swift re-establishment of the High-Level Group on Steel "Steel industry is the basis of Europe's industry. It needs our full attention and should not be diluted in a body with other energy-intensive industries", said Enrico Gibellieri, co-rapporteur of the opinion and delegate of the CCMI. 

The EESC also clearly repeated its position against granting MES to China as long as it does not comply with the five EU criteria "Granting EMS to China would outsource jobs, import pollution and finally kill off Europe's steel industry", stated the rapporteurs. 

The opinion's main proposals include:

Anti-dumping

The EESC calls on the Commission to immediately address the unfair trade practices of exporting countries, in particular China, by enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of trade defence instruments, including

  • abolishing the  "lesser duty rule";
  • registering imports prior to the adoption of provisional measures; and
  • retroactively applying definitive antidumping and/or countervailing duties three months before the adoption of provisional measures under the Basic Regulation.

ETS

The EESC reminds of the need to balance the commitment on climate change with the need to maintain the competitiveness of Europe's industry and suggest giving free allowances to the most competitive facilities in order to encourage other facilities to improve their performance.

European industry should be compensated for any indirect costs resulting from ETS.

Investment and push for R&D

To ensure competitiveness of Europe's steel industry it is essential to remain at the cutting edge of technology. "Boosting investment in European steel industry including modernising plants and equipment, research and development of new and better products and more efficient processes must be a guiding principle", said the rapporteurs.

Circular economy and public procurement

The voluntary sustainability schemes developed by the industry should be taken into account and properly rewarded in public procurement regulations as the best way to promote the sustainability approach across the entire EU market.

 

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