Parliamentary question - O-000139/2015Parliamentary question

    Situation in the steel sector


    Question for oral answer O-000139/2015
    to the Commission
    Rule 128
    Emma McClarkin, Ashley Fox, Vicky Ford, Evžen Tošenovský, on behalf of the ECR Group

    The European steel industry has been under unprecedented pressure since the financial crash of 2008, and large-scale job losses have been at the forefront of political debate across Europe over recent weeks. With European consumption still around 25 % lower than before the crisis, reduced demand in Europe has been exacerbated by wider global challenges which are now putting the industry in a perilous position.

    While the pressures on the steel industry are founded upon a number of different factors, such as the relative strength of European currencies and high energy prices, we cannot ignore the fact that the industry is facing unfair competition and anti-competitive market behaviour. As a result of slowing domestic consumption, Chinese steel exports rose by 28 % in the first six months of 2015, flooding the world market with steel that is often sold overseas at a loss. This is dramatically destabilising the global steel market and the flow of trade, thus jeopardising European steel manufacturing as a whole, an industry which accounts for 330 000 jobs.

    In addition to these difficulties, the existence of a cap on the amount of compensation that governments can provide for the indirect costs of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) - passed on in prices by electricity generators - means that steel plants are also paying a proportion of the ETS costs associated with any electricity they buy.

    – Is the Commission closely monitoring the existing anti-dumping measures relating to China, with a view to their extension should large-scale dumping and anti-competitive behaviour be proven?

    – Has the Commission had direct contact with the Chinese government with a view to reaching an amicable resolution of this issue?

    – Can the Commission look urgently into means of allowing much faster state aid clearance for energy-intensive industries in order to help offset the above-mentioned additional forms of pressure?

    – Does the Commission feel that the existing state aid framework is robust enough to cope with the current issues facing the steel sector in the EU? Do Member States require improved guidance on what intervention could be permitted?