Brussels, 20 June 2016 – The referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union puts a historic decision in the hands of the British people. However, a vote for Brexit would represent another blow to the UK steel industry, its value chains and the wider economy, and would also have far reaching effects on the European steel sector.
“There are a number of foreseeable negatives and very few discernible positives in the event that the UK ends its membership of the EU”, said Axel Eggert, Director General of the European Steel Association (EUROFER). “The UK steel industry is a vital component of the overall European steel sector, and Brexit throws its close integration into Europe’s value chains into doubt. It is clear that a vote for Brexit would further damage the UK steel industry.”
The UK steel sector heavily depends on the EU as a market for its steel products: in 2015 71% of its total flat products exports and 65% of its total long product exports were sold to EU countries. Around 13,000 people work in the UK steel industry.
“In the event of a vote for Brexit, international businesses would re-consider their operational, commercial and investment strategies, which could have serious repercussions for the downstream client sectors of the UK steel industry. The resulting uncertainty, particularly during the negotiating period, could immobilise investment and compound currency volatility”, added Mr Eggert.
Of particular importance is the UK’s international trade position. In the event of Brexit, the UK would have to find alternative arrangements for the conduct of its trade policy.
“Given the conditions for access to the EU’s single market, the putative gains to be had from Brexit are illusory and the potential costs very real indeed. The alternatives – such as trade under WTO rules or the negotiation of a trade deal with the EU – are unattractive or uncertain, and come with a number of specific drawbacks”, said Mr Eggert.
“Trade policy is much more effective as a bloc; inside the EU the UK gets a better deal internationally than it could ever hope to achieve outside”, declared Mr Eggert.
“The EU is a major achievement for peace and prosperity in Europe. As an industry at the heart of the European project, we believe it is better to work together to improve how the EU works, helping to shape better regulation that supports the sector”, Mr Eggert concluded.
“The UK should not throw in the towel on EU membership. The best hope for EU and UK steel is for the country to vote ‘Remain’ on 23 June”.
Charles de Lusignan, Communications Manager, +32 2 738 79 35, (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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 320,000 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.
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