Isolde Ries, European Committee of the Regions' rapporteur on the EU steel sector and First Vice-President of the Saarland regional parliament (PES/Germany), and Gabriele Bischoff, President of the European Economic and Social Committee Workers' Group, warmly welcomed the steel action day, organised by trade unions and works councils. "Thousands of steelworkers from across Europe demonstrating today in Brussels will hand over 100,000 signatures to the European Commission, expressing their deep concern over the continuous decline of this significant economic sector. The European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council must act swiftly to reverse this trend", they said.
Ries pointed out that the Commission's proposal for a directive amending the current EU Emissions Trading Directive would lead to a serious cost burden for the European steel industry. "We need realistic product benchmarks that take into account the use of blast furnace gas in the steel industry and we must stop any further reduction of the free allocation of CO2 allowances for the primary industry".
"Trade decisions to be taken at European level in the coming weeks will have a tangible impact on the fate of European steel companies", underlined Ries and Bischoff, pointing to the need for effective trade instruments. "It is not about being protectionist vis-à-vis European steel industry but about ensuring fair competition, also by abolishing or suspending the lesser-duty rule", they argued.
If China is granted Market Economy Status in December, it will be more difficult to apply the EU's anti-dumping measures because the methodology of calculation will change and Chinese prices would be used for comparison purposes. In this context, the CoR rapporteur urged the European Commission to formalise its current approach, which consists of removing the existing list of non-market economy countries and deviating from the usual standard method for calculating the dumping margin in the event of significant market disturbances in a Member State.