European steelworkers took to the streets of Brussels yesterday in protest against the likely bestowal of 'market economy status' on China – a move guaranteed to open the floodgates to cheap Chinese steel being dumped on Western European markets.

The aim of the protest was to raise awareness of the current plight of the European steel industry and persuade political leaders of the European Union and MEPs to think long and hard before granting China MES status at the end of this year.

It is argued that China is not an economy operating under market conditions and that to pretend that it is could be catastrophic for the European steel industry.

The march was supported by EUROFER (the European Steel Association) and AEGIS Europe, an alliance representing about 30 industry sectors. In addition to the steel industry, representatives of other sectors – aluminium, non-ferrous metals, solar panels, fibreglass and the ceramic industries (among others) – took part in the protest.

Newly appointed EUROFER president Geert Van Poelvoorde said: "Since the financial crisis, 85,000 jobs have been lost in the European steel industry; in the past six months alone 7,000 more jobs have gone. Without utilising the TDIs available to us in a timely manner there is a substantial risk that we will see more plant closures and job losses."

According to Mr Van Poelvoorde, the situation will worsen if China is granted MES as it would give them 'a licence to dump'.

"A decision to grant China MES is illogical; China is not a market economy and only fulfills one of the five criteria set out by the EU for countries to be deemed as such," he said.

Last year nine steel associations released a joint statement highlighting their concerns about China's attempt to gain MES in December 2016.

A recent report by Reuters claimed that it is now highly likely that the European Union WILL grant China MES status at the end of the year.