EUROFER is satisfied with many aspects and findings in the recommendations of the High level Roundtable on the future of the European Steel Industry, published on February 12, 2013. The European Steel Association acknowledges Commissioner Antonio Tajani’s role as the driving force behind a new approach on industry in European policy making. The trade body also welcomes that both the policies undermining the international competitiveness of the European steel industry and the effects of the current economic crisis are addressed in the recommendations. It now calls for an effective Steel Action Plan as well as for the support of José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission in changing the policies that put the European steel industry at disadvantage in international competition.
The High level Roundtable (HLR) on the Future of the European Steel Industry unites representatives of the gouvernments of 13 steel-producing countries, various Commission Directorates-General, Executive Board Members and Chief Executive Officers of EUROFER member companies as well as representatives from trade unions. Set up by the Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship Antonio Tajani in cooperation with László Andor, Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, the HLR has taken place three times since September 2012 to prepare recommendations for a European Steel Action Plan. The Steel Action Plan is to be published by the European Commission in June this year.
The recommendations identify climate, energy and trade policies as causing the greatest disadvantages for the European steel industry. The HLR calls on the Commission to define a reliable post-2020 climate policy framework and emphasises the need for technology-based and economically viable measures in this area. The Commission should seek for a design of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme that considers sector specific aspects in terms of technology and economics. EUROFER emphasises that the steel sector cannot meet new emissions targets without new technologies.
Energy policy, the recommendations say, has to address the problem that Europe pays three times as much for its gas and twice as much for electricity as its global competitors. In the trade policy area the HLR urges the Commission to continue to tackle different kinds of export restrictions on raw materials in third countries amongst other things. All industry-relevant policies, the HLR points out, should be based on competitiveness proofing and impact assessments.
With the current economic crisis in Europe, which also deeply affects the steel industry, employment policies have also been an issue in the HLR meetings. EUROFER welcomes the deployment of structural funds for support and retraining as well as to abate the social consequences of closures and restructuring but warns against too much bureaucratic and political interference in decisions which are proper to the industry itself.
“The proof of the pudding is in the eating,” EUROFER President and CEO of voestalpine AG, Dr. Wolfgang Eder in his speech during the presentation of the recommendations, expressing remaining doubts whether the Steel Action Plan is going to contain effective and concrete measures that accurately reflect the recommendations. He pointed out the importance of support from the highest level of the Commission for the success of the Action Plan and emphasised the urgency of the problem: “It’s time to translate good intentions into action. Industrial emigration from Europe has already started!”
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