Commission starts preparing steel action plan

Brussels, 10-12-2012 — / — Commissioner Antonio Tajani met today with representatives from the Steel Industry and the Social Partners in the second meeting of the High-level Roundtable on the future of the European Steel Industry. Stakeholders were invited to present and discuss specific policy recommendations touching on several policy areas. These discussions will enable the Commission to prepare by June 2013, Action plan for the European Steel Industry aiming to foster innovation, growth and employment within this sector.

The current situation of steel industry

With employment of 360.000 people, turnover of around 170 billion and its position in the manufacturing value chain of many downstream sectors, the steel sector has a strategic place in the economy.

Over the last decade, a spectacular change has taken place in the global steel landscape due to rapid growth in steel use and production capacities in BRIC countries. China is currently by far the biggest steel producer with a share of global steel output rising from 18% to 45 % between 2001 and 2011. By comparison, the share of EU-27 fell from 22% to 12%.

At the present, European steelmakers are facing challenging economic conditions. Due to the current stagnation and contraction in manufacturing output in the EU, crude steel output in the EU is around 17% below the level of 2007 and in 2012 it is forecast to fall by 5% compared to last year. The low demand resulted in situation of unused capacities that are estimated to account for around 20 – 25% of the total production capacity. With reduced steel demand, temporary or permanent closures of production capacities took place in several EU countries.

Background – Challenges of the sector

In September 2012, Commissioners Tajani and Andor convened a High-level Roundtable on the future of the European Steel Industry with the aim of offering a platform for dialogue between industry, the trade unions and the Commission. At the first meeting in September, the stakeholders identified the main policy factors and challenges for the competitiveness of the sector. These are (i) international competition including protectionism and unfair trade practices, (ii) access to raw materials, (iii) regulatory costs, (iv) implementation of EU climate policy (Emission trading scheme), (v) EU climate policy objectives for post-2020, (vi) costs of energy, (vii) resource-efficiency, (viii) skills shortages, (ix) adaptations of capacities, (x) R&D and innovation and (xi) demand-side measures stimulating recovery in the main steel-using sectors.

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