The European Parliament has told the European Commission that the steel industry is essential for growth and prosperity in Europe.
It is in the interest of the whole European Union and its manufacturing sectors to have a competitive steel industry and to secure supply through domestic production. Strategic initiatives are needed, therefore, to support the sector and to keep it in Europe.
The Parliament applauds Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani’s initiative to develop a European Action Plan for the steel sector, stressing the need to have it presented as soon as possible. All tools available on an EU level helping the industry invest and modernize should be included in the plan. The resolution lists instruments such as increased (Research, Development, Innovation (R&D&I), targeted investment by the European Investment Bank and an active policy for skills, requalification and retraining of workers, amongst other things. The Action Plan should also address the high cost of raw materials and energy, which, the resolution explains, ‘are a threat to the steel industry’s competitiveness.’
The resolution acknowledges the steel industry as the backbone of innovation and value creation for many industrial sectors such as the automotive, construction and mechanical engineering. It recognizes the European steel industry as a high-technology industry which ‘must be retained by taking immediate action to avoid their relocation outside of EU territory.’ It also stresses that strong efforts are necessary since the industry is suffering from a substantial drop in demand caused by the on-going economic crisis.
The Parliament is aware that keeping the steel industry in Europe also presupposes a level playing field with its international competitors. In this context the resolution calls on the Commission to ensure reciprocity in trade politics. It also recommends to keep up the prior surveillance system for imports of steel products and to include that system in the Action Plan. Also, the Parliament recommends establishing a tripartite body formed by the trade unions, the industry and the Commission to work towards further development of the European steel industry.
The European, which represents 100% of steel producers in the EU, applauds the resolution: “The Parliament rightly points out the strategic role and the technological leadership of our industry. And it clearly defines most, though not all, political issues that have to be worked on urgently to keep our industry competitive on the global markets.” Says Gordon Moffat, Director General of the European Steel Association. He stressed that the EU climate targets also need to be discussed if global competitiveness of the European steel industry is to be maintained: “Climate targets not based on technological possibilities and imposed via an isolated EU Emissions Trading Scheme also are a factor that will force the relocation of the industry.”
Moffat welcomes the support for Commissioner Tajani’s initiative: “Making the changes in policies necessary for a positive impact on industrial competitiveness will be challenging. This initiative indeed needs support, not only from the Parliament but also from the very top of the European Commission.”