In 2012, crude steel production in the European Union amounted to 168Mt, a reduction of 5% compared to 2011.
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 inventory reductions in the steel distribution chain. The share of the EU in total global crude steel output was reduced to 11% in 2012.
EU real steel consumption decreased by around 5% in 2012. The downward trend in real steel consumption largely stemmed from weakening activity in the steel using industries in the EU. These negative trends look set to remain in force in 2013; only in the final quarter of the year consumption is seen stabilising at the year earlier level.
EU apparent steel consumption decreased by almost 10% in 2012. Particularly in the second half of 2012, the decline was compounded by inventory corrections in the steel distribution chain. As a result, bookings remained weak after the summer period. "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," states Eurofer Director General Gordon Moffat.
Total third country imports into the EU decreased by 27% to 21Mt in 2012. Whereas in 2011 import pressure had been very high, the combination of sluggish demand and a weakened Euro resulted in a marked reduction in imports in 2012. Imports from Ukraine, Russia and China continued to dominate total imports arriving in the EU, accounting for 66% of total import supply.
EU steel exports to third countries rose 9% in 2012. The rise was particularly pronounced in semi-finished steel products; exports rose 71% but overall volumes account only for 12% of total steel exports. The increase in flat exports was 4% and for longs 5% in 2012.
In 2013 exports are expected to stagnate at the 2012 level. The domestic market will remain sluggish. However, international competition and the stronger Euro will limit any further growth potential on the key export markets.
The European steel industry has a turnover of €170bn and direct employment of 360 thousand highly skilled people, producing on average 190Mt of steel a year. More than 500 steel production and processing sites in 23 EU member states provide direct and indirect employment and a living for millions of European citizens.