Parliamentary questions
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20 November 2014
Question for oral answer O-000087/2014
to the Commission
Rule 128
Antonio Tajani, on behalf of the PPE Group

 Subject: Steel plant Acciai Speciali Terni (AST) in Italy

In April 2012, the Finnish group Outukumpu announced its intention to acquire the stainless steel producer Inoxum, a division of ThyssenKrupp (TK), of which the stainless steel production site in Terni (Italy), AST, was part. Under the deal TK would in return acquire 29.9 % of the shares in Outukumpu.

In November 2012, the Commission approved the acquisition of Inoxum subject to the condition that AST would be divested along with certain distribution facilities, so as to preserve competition in the EEA market for cold rolled stainless steel. This was to take place before May 2013: however, the deadline was extended twice.

Finally, in January 2014 TK issued its proposal for acquiring AST. In the course of the divestment process it provided assurances and presented a business plan that demonstrated that it would develop AST as a strong and credible competitor to market players in stainless steel cold rolled products. Nevertheless, in July 2014 an industrial plan for AST was presented which entails shedding some 550 jobs and reducing expenditure by EUR 100 million, as well as the closure of one of the two hot rolling furnaces by 2015/2016.

On 4 November 2014, a delegation headed by EP Vice-Presidents Tajani and Sassoli and also including representatives of the trade unions at the steel plant, the President of the Umbria region and the Mayor of Terni, met with the ‘cabinet’ of Margrethe Vestager, the Commissioner responsible for competition to discuss this issue.

The approach is strongly questioned, as in the steel-making process the quality of the cold rolled product depends to a large extent on the quality of the hot rolled products. AST is an integrated site where both processes take place; consequently, the reduction in the production of hot rolled products will impact negatively on the quality of the final product and will therefore lower the overall competitiveness of the plant.

It follows that TK’s decision is not compliant with the assurances provided in the course of the divestment process.

Can the Commission state what action it has taken since the visit of the EP Vice-Presidents on 4 November 2014?

Can the Commission state which EU funds and policy instruments have been mobilised to alleviate the social costs of adjustment and ensure that the relevant skills are retained and developed for the future competitiveness of the industry?

Can the Commission state whether the interservice task force for restructuring cases has been activated, as requested by the trade unions, the European Parliament and the Italian Government?

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