In the 27 countries making up the European Union (EU) apparent steel consumption decreased by almost 10% in 2012.

Particularly in the second half of 2012, the decline was compounded by sharp inventory corrections in the steel distribution chain. As a result, steel mill orders remained extremely weak after the summer period.

In October and November, order intakes strengthened again, signalling the likelihood of a technical restocking in early 2013 to replenish depleted inventories at steel service centres and merchants. With end-user fundamentals forecast to remain depressed until late 2013, the EU market will continue to lack positive demand-side impulses for the greater part of the year.

Crude steel production in the EU amounted to 16Mt, a reduction of 5% compared to 2011. Quite similar to the trend registered in 2011, crude steel output in the second half of the year was well below production in the first half, reflecting EU steel mills adjusting production in a response to weakening real steel consumption and massive inventory reductions in the steel distribution chain. The share of EU crude steel production in total global crude steel output was reduced to 11% in 2012.