Eurofer, Brussels

Industry welcomes timely Council Summit on European steel crisis

The European Steel Association (Eurofer) welcomed the news that an emergency meeting will take place in the coming days between ministers from EU member states to discuss the ongoing challenges faced by the steel industry in Europe. “Surging imports, price depression and job losses are intensifying across the European steel market. Pressures, notably from unfairly traded Chinese steel, are a central cause of EU steel industry distress. Driven by massive excess steel capacity – twice the size of the EU’s total steel demand – China has been dumping unprecedented volumes of steel onto international and EU markets,” highlighted Axel Eggert, Eurofer Director General.

Chinese steel exports have exploded to 110 million t this year, doubling its export volumes over the past two years. “Dumped and subsidised steel from China is destroying industry margins across the globe, with players in the EU's open market particularly vulnerable. High energy costs, sustained by a range of EU and national policies, also weigh down on the sector in Europe,” said Mr Eggert.

Mr Eggert emphasised, “During the financial and economic crises the sector lost over 80 000 jobs, 20% of its workforce.  Unfortunately, our faith that the tide had begun to turn has vanished over the past quarter, during which at least further 5 000 jobs have been lost. These losses not only destroy whole communities, but irreversibly damage the industrial fibre of the European economy. This is why this Council meeting is so timely.”

The Council meeting was called for by the UK Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, following a number of closures and redundancy notices in that country. Eurofer hopes that the meeting can help to build a consensus around practical, swiftly implementable policies designed to support innovation, lower energy costs, restrain the regulatory burden and – vitally – to ensure that European steel producers face a level playing field in international trade. “The European steel industry is at a crossroads,” concluded Mr Eggert. “The steel industry is committed to Europe and to its thousands of dedicated employees.”

“Our goal is for policy makers to do whatever it takes to keep this innovative, strategic industry in Europe. What we ask from the EU is an emergency plan with measures to re-establish fair trade for the EU steel industry, increase the speed and effectiveness of the EU’s trade defence instruments and refuse market economy status for China so long as the country fails to fulfil the EU's criteria. The EU is lagging behind other regions which have recognised the problem and have taken immediate action, such as the US, India, Turkey and many others.

The EU also needs to shape an energy and climate policy, in particular its EU’s emissions trading scheme, that does not create costs not borne by our global competitors.

Eurofer, Brussels