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European Union/European steel industry crisis

Published on March 23, 2016
Joint communiqué issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development and the Ministry of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector
Paris, March 16, 2016

Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector, and Matthias Fekl, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, welcome the commitments the European Commission made today to tackle the European steel industry crisis.

The European Commission adopted a communication entitled “Steel: preserving sustainable jobs and growth in Europe”, which envisages mobilizing all Europe’s tools to safeguard and modernize the steel sector in Europe: trade defence instruments to protect against unfair competition, European finance to invest in innovation, and in particular a competition policy and energy policy. The Commission undertakes, among other things, to reduce the period of time taken by anti-dumping procedures, which is a first important step forward and a response to a strong call by France.

The European steel industry is currently going through a difficult situation, a hallmark of which is a massive global overcapacity in production and falling demand, which are resulting in a drop in prices and often unfair competition practices. The challenges are huge: the steel industry directly employs 330,000 people in Europe and has 500 production sites.

Under the impetus of France among others, European efforts have been increased in recent months. In particular, on Emmanuel Macron’s initiative, seven member states (France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Poland, Belgium and Luxembourg) sent a letter to the Commission and the presidency of the Council of the European Union to ask for anti-dumping procedures to be speeded up and strengthened. Other member states lent their support to this initiative.

These efforts are producing results. Among other things, the European Commission has stepped up dialogue with China with a view to reducing surplus production capacity. It also adopted new anti-dumping measures in the steel sector in February and initiated three inquiries into Chinese steel imports. The communication adopted today reinforces this action.

Efforts must be stepped up further. Emmanuel Macron and Matthias Fekl are calling for anti-dumping procedures to be speeded up even more and are inviting their European Union partners to resume talks on the modernization of trade defence instruments, in order to make European anti-dumping measures more prohibitive.

Emmanuel Macron said: “Given the crisis in the steel industry, France is taking action and Europe is making progress. We’re taking action to both modernize our industry and protect it against unfair competition. Efforts must be increased further, and European procedures must be swifter and more effective. The steel industry isn’t our industrial past, it’s our economic future.” Matthias Fekl said: “France is fighting to ensure our trade defence instruments are strengthened. The French and European steel industry needs them when the conditions for fair competition don’t exist. Reciprocity must be the cornerstone of European trade policy. Swifter and more prohibitive defence measures will be more effective. Industrial employment in France is at stake.”./.

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