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An EU industrial policy providing a strong business case for green investment in Europe
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A thriving European steel industry is crucial for the EU’s strategic autonomy and resilience. However, over the past decade, the EU has shifted from being a net steel exporter to a major net steel importer, losing 30 million tonnes of sales on the EU and export markets. Additionally, the EU steel industry has lost 26 million tonnes of steel production capacity and 25% of its workforce.
The EU is facing a new global reality. To ensure that the EU remains competitive in the middle of the greatest transformation of the industry towards climate-neutrality, it is essential to adopt disruptive thinking and innovative measures. Otherwise, competitors such as the US and China are likely to create a more attractive investment and production environment for green steel, further threatening the EU’s strategic autonomy. The US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) alone will provide at least USD 85 billion of funding for steel production and upstream energy requirements.
Steel is essential for a climate-neutral economy. Renewables, hydrogen, wind and electric vehicles, are all dependent on steel. It is estimated that more than 74 million tons of steel will be required for the expansion of renewable energy generation alone, demonstrating that the foundations of the Net-zero Age are made of steel. A successful EU industrial policy requires a value chain-based approach, with steel at the core of the Green Deal Industry Plan and as an integral part of the Net-Zero Industry Act. To transition steel and other energy-intensive industries towards carbon neutrality and enhance circularity while ensuring the EU industry’s competitiveness is protected, the following enabling conditions are indispensable:
1. Access to sufficient and globally cost-competitive fossil-free energy and primary and secondary raw materials such as steel scrap, which is strategic.
2. Better tailored, more certain, clear and flexible funding and financial incentives across the EU are required, as well as faster processing of applications. Increased support for the roll-out of low-carbon steel projects rather than for research and innovation is necessary.
3. Establishment of lead markets for green steel and products (including low-CO2 steel); this could be achieved through public procurement, quotas, ambitious GHG thresholds or introduction of GHG pricing for final products based on their lifecycle emissions.
4. Trade policy that levels the playing field with global competitors:
It is also essential to prioritise and mainstream industrial policy and competitiveness while reducing regulatory burdens in all policy initiatives and legislative proposals, ensuring long-term predictability.
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Brussels, 16 March 2023 – A successful EU industrial policy requires a value chain-based approach, with steel as an integral part of the Net-Zero Industry Act. To ensure that the EU remains competitive in the greatest transformation of the industry towards climate-neutrality, it is essential to adopt disruptive thinking and innovative measures to create a more attractive green investment environment whilst securing the EU’s strategic autonomy. The European Steel Association (EUROFER) details its comprehensive vision in a new policy paper covering all industrial policy fields relevant for a green, decarbonised and prospering European manufacturing industry, including energy and climate, environment and circularity, investment, trade, internal market and skills.
Brussels, 14 March 2023 – The revision of the Electricity Market Design (EMD) risks becoming another missed opportunity to secure cost-competitive fossil-free electricity and to introduce solutions providing swift relief to energy-intensive sectors exposed to global competition. It remains unclear how industrial energy consumers will be able to access the large quantities of renewable and low-carbon electricity needed for their decarbonisation in the coming years, says the European Steel Association following the publication of the European Commission’s reform proposal on the EMD.
Brussels, 09 February 2023 – Hydrogen is at the core of the green steel transition. Ensuring access to this scarce resource – with a share of a bare 2% in today’ EU energy mix – will be paramount in the upcoming years to enable carbon-neutral steelmaking in practice. The reports adopted today by the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) represent a significant step towards industrial decarbonisation, as they acknowledge the importance of prioritising hydrogen access for sectors that have the greatest potential for emissions reduction and the largest impact on climate mitigation, says the European Steel Association (EUROFER).