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Thursday, 24 February 2005 - Strasbourg
The steel sector

European Parliament resolution on the future of the steel sector

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and in particular to its provisions regarding social rights, and to Article 136 of the EC Treaty, under which the Member States shall have as objectives the promotion of employment, improved living and working conditions, proper social protection, dialogue between management and labour, the development of human resources with a view to lasting high employment and the combating of exclusion,

–   having regard to Directive 2002/14/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2002(1) establishing a framework for informing and consulting employees in the European Community, Directive 98/59/EC(2) and Directive 94/45/EC(3); whereas the two last-named directives both concern the harmonisation of Member States' legislation on the instruments of dialogue between management and labour,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the steel industry and industrial restructurings and mergers, and, in particular, that of 12 February 2004 on the crisis in the iron and steel sector on the case of AST/Thyssen Krupp (Terni, Italy)(4), adopted unanimously,

–   having regard to the continuing job losses in the steel industry in Europe,

–   having regard to Rule 103(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas Europe begun with the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC),

B.   whereas the Lisbon strategy aims to turn the EU into the world's most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy, capable of sustained economic growth accompanied by the creation of more and better jobs and greater social cohesion,

C.   concerned at the opting-out from high-level technological production, which has in recent years been regarded as a model of technological know-how and which must therefore be protected,

D.   having regard to the EU's interest in providing conditions in which industrial activities that employ a large segment of the working population of the enlarged Europe can be maintained,

E.   whereas solidarity needs a solid expression, both at present and for future generations, through economic and social cohesion which will help disadvantaged areas and population groups in the EU to eliminate disparities on a basis of enhanced growth and competitiveness,

F.   whereas Thyssen-Krupp has failed to honour the undertakings made in the agreement reached with the Italian government over its plant in Terni, under which the steel plant would be maintained in exchange for benefits in terms of infrastructure and energy costs,

G.   whereas no industrial reason justifies not honouring the June 2004 agreement, especially in view of the 55% increase in the company's net profits, which now stand at more than EUR 844 000 000,

H.   whereas less than one year after that agreement, the company has again announced its intention to close the magnetic sheet steel plants, with the risk of closure of all forges next year; whereas no industrial reason justifies not honouring the agreements reached by all the parties concerned or dismantling the Thyssen-Krupp plant in Terni,

I.   whereas the reduction of the production of magnetic steel in Terni will basically mean the loss of this strategic industrial sector in Italy, with serious consequences for the competitiveness of the economy and for the employment of young qualified people,

J.   having regard to the considerable public investment, including structural funding under Objective 2 and from the European Social Fund, for developing the local system, infrastructures and vocational training, from which AST Thyssen-Krupp has benefited,

K.   having regard to the renewed protests by the workers affected, their unions, the local community and the local authority representatives,

1.  Calls on the Commission, as already requested in its above-mentioned resolution of 12 February 2004, to adopt a more decisive strategy to tackle industrial restructuring and its social impact;

2.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to promote initiatives to prevent the downscaling of the European steel industry and the consequent losses of qualified jobs, particularly at those centres of excellence where there has been much investment in innovation;

3.  Calls on Thyssen Krupp, following such intervention by the Italian Government and the Commission, to maintain worker numbers, comply with the investment plan submitted in June 2004, and develop other branches of production (alloys and titanium) not directly linked to its core business of producing stainless steel;

4.  Expresses its solidarity with the workers affected and their relatives, whether employed at the AST plant or in related activities, whose jobs are now at risk;

5.  Considers that the use of Community funds, and especially funding for industry and from the European Social Fund, should be made subject to specific rules relating to innovation, local development, employment, and to production commitments within the territory, in the long term, of the enterprises benefiting; calls in particular for the rules on use of the Structural Funds to be respected and reinforced;

6.  Calls on the Commission and the national governments to introduce legislation on corporate social responsibility in the interests of sustainable development;

7.  Considers that Europe must promote innovation by developing its industrial interests, especially in the advanced and high technology sectors, supporting appropriate industrial redeployment plans; emphasises that investment in research and development can be used to develop the new materials, designs and processes that can reconfigure traditional industries;

8.  Asks the Commission to present a communication on the current state of the steel sector and to create a high-level group on this sector;

9.  Invites the Commission, after the expiry of the ECSC Treaty, to present a strategy for the future prospects of the steel sector in order to promote independent European capacity in this sector;

10.  Calls on the Member States to promote and step up the social dialogue on a basis of compliance with national and European legislation on informing and consulting employees, and to adopt effective measures aimed at protecting trade union representatives;

11.  Calls on the Commission to work for a decision at WTO and OECD level which would ensure the protection of the Union's steel industry on the international market;

12.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Governments and Parliaments of the Member States, the WTO, the OECD and the social partners.

(1) OJ L 80, 23.3.2002, p. 29.
(2) Council Directive 98/59/EC of 20 July 1998 on the approximation of the laws of the Members States relating to collective redundancies (OJ L 225, 12.8.1998, p.16).
(3) Council Directive 94/45/EC of 22 September 1994 on the establishment of European Works Council or a procedure in Community-scale undertakings and Community-scale groups of undertakings for the purpose of informing and consulting employees (OJ L 254, 30.9.1994, p. 64). Directive amended by Directive 97/74/EC (OJ L 10, 16.1.1998, p. 22).
(4) OJ C 97 E, 22.4.2004, p. 637.

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