Thousands of European steel employees and employers gather in Brussels in historic protest against dumping and Market Economy Status for China
Brussels, 15 February 2016 – Many thousands of steel employees and their employers from at least 17 European member states will gather in Brussels today to march in protest at damaging dumping of steel products from China, which is wiping out jobs across the EU and violating the principles of free and fair trade. They will also be protesting against the premature granting of Market Economy Status (MES) to China.
The march is organised, with the support of the European Steel Association (EUFOFER) and its members, under the banner of AEGIS Europe, an alliance of around 30 industrial sectors. These sectors, besides steel, also include the aluminium, non-ferrous metals, solar panels, glass fibre, bicycle manufacturing and ceramics industries.
In a speech prior to the march, President of EUROFER Mr Geert Van Poelvoorde said, “This is an important day for Europe’s steel industry. Very senior government ministers and European officials are meeting to discuss the future of the steel industry in Europe. At the same time over 3,000 steelworkers will be taking part in a demonstration to highlight their concern about a growing number of challenges facing the steel industry. I will be one of them.”
“We have seen a surge of steel imports, a rise of over 100%, from China into the EU over the past three years. Imports are coming into Europe at price levels below the cost of production; this is what is known as ‘dumping’. The EU has Trade Defence Instruments (TDI) to respond to this type of behaviour, but these have been incredibly slow to utilise trade tariffs. An urgent adaptation of trade legislation is required.
“Since the financial crisis, 85,000 jobs have been lost in the European steel industry; in the past six months alone, 7,000 more jobs have gone. Without utilising the TDIs available to us in a timely manner there is a substantial risk that we will see more plant closures and job losses.
“The situation will become even more pronounced if China is granted MES as it would essentially give China a licence to dump. A decision to grant China MES is illogical; China is not a market economy and only fulfils one of the five criteria set out by the EU for countries to be deemed as such.
“Steel is a global industry; European steelmakers need appropriate policy support in order to ensure competition takes place in a fair manner, on a level playing field. We urgently need four concrete actions from the EU Commission, namely: the process of implementing TDIs to be urgently reviewed, and the time taken from initiating cases to introducing measures to be significantly reduced; a commitment from the Commission to modernise TDIs in order to make them fit for purpose in today’s market; for China not to be granted MES when it is clear that China does not meet the EU’s market economy criteria; for the EU Emissions Trading Scheme to be amended so it does not place European steelmakers at a competitive disadvantage to global peers.”
The march will make a route around the EU quarter of Brussels, with demonstrators gathering from 10:30 onwards, ahead of the start of the march at 11:30.
Charles de Lusignan, Communications Manager, +32 2 738 79 35 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A copy of Mr Van Poelvoorde’s full speech can be downloaded from the EUROFER website.
A PDF version of this Press Release is available on the EUROFER website.
EUROFER is located in Brussels and was founded in 1976. It represents the entirety of steel production in the European Union. EUROFER members are steel companies and national steel federations throughout the EU. The major steel companies and national steel federations in Switzerland and Turkey are associate members.
The European steel industry is a world leader in innovation and environmental sustainability. It has a turnover of around €170 billion and directly employs 330,000 highly-skilled people, producing on average 170 million tonnes of steel per year. More than 500 steel production sites across 24 EU Member States provide direct and indirect employment to millions more European citizens. Closely integrated with Europe’s manufacturing and construction industries, steel is the backbone for development, growth and employment in Europe.
Steel is the most versatile industrial material in the world. The thousands of different grades and types of steel developed by the industry make the modern world possible. Steel is 100% recyclable and therefore is a fundamental part of the circular economy. As a basic engineering material, steel is also an essential factor in the development and deployment of innovative, CO2-mitigating technologies, improving resource efficiency and fostering sustainable development in Europe.
AEGIS Europe brings together nearly 30 European associations representing a broad variety of industries including traditional industries, consumer branches, SMEs and renewable energy sectors, accounting for more than €500 billion in annual turnover and millions of jobs across the EU. This industry alliance, made up of leaders in sustainable manufacturing and social and environmental responsibility, is committed to European manufacturing as the fundamental driver of innovation, growth and jobs in Europe.
The AEGIS Europe Press Release and European Industrial Manifesto are available on the AEGIS website.