Euro Labour MEP Calls for EU Action on Energy and Steel Dumping to Support West Midlands Steel Industry

Neena Gill

West Midlands Labour MEP, Neena Gill, member of the West Midlands Steel Taskforce, yesterday afternoon (November 9) questioned the European Commissioner for Competiveness, Margrethe Vestager, on urgent measures to create a level playing field for EU energy price policy which would allow the UK steel industry to compete with major international competitors in a fair environment.

Ms Gill also called on Commissioner Vestager to work with European colleagues to address the issue of substandard quality steel imports from China which are undermining the UK steel industry.

This came ahead of the special Competitiveness Council session of European Business Ministers yesterday evening in Brussels which examined the competitive pressure factors facing the steel industry.

Neena Gill MEP in her questions to Commissioner Vestager emphasised that the steel industry is a key economic driver for the West Midlands and supports close to 260,000 jobs in the associated supply chain.  Ms Gill also raised with Commissioner Vestager the issue of Caparo Industries, calling for more to be done to safeguard the steel industry in the West Midlands and nationally.

Neena Gill MEP said:

“Caparo Industries is on the brink of collapse amid the crisis engulfing the steel industry and I was further saddened to learn of the alleged suicide of Caparo Industries CEO, Angat Paul.  During my intervention in the Parliament I offered my deepest condolences to his friends, family and colleagues”.

Ms Gill, in questioning Commissioner Vestager, highlighted that “Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills, Sajid Javid MP, has blamed the EU for a lack of action to tackle this steel crisis, due to strict EU state aid rules as well as the EU’s apparent failure to respond to the dumping of cheap steel imports”.

In response, Commissioner Vestager rebutted these claims emphasising that “the Commission is bound by EU State Aid rules which were agreed by Heads of State, including David Cameron, back in 2013”.

Commissioner Vestager added that “the Commission is working closely with all Member States, including the UK, to discuss exemptions to State Aid rules to support Energy Intensive Industries such as steel”.

“The steel industry is a crucial economic driver for the West Midlands yet high energy costs for UK steel producers place the industry at a competitive disadvantage compared to major international competitors”.  Ms Gill stressed to Commissioner Vestager that measures to create a level playing field for EU energy price policy need to be taken urgently.  This will allow the UK steel industry to compete with major international competitors in a fair environment.

Ms Gill further questioned Commissioner Vestager on the Commission’s progress on tackling the dumping of cheap steel imports on the EU market and the negative impact this has had on the price of steel.  Commissioner Vestager highlighted that “steel is included in so many products it is difficult to identify where this steel has come from”.  However, she pointed out that a number of anti-dumping measures have been initiated.

Neena Gill MEP commented:

“I welcome that the Commission has already implemented a series of anti-dumping measures.  However, there needs to be continued action at the European level to allow the UK steel sector to compete in a fair and level playing field and continue its role as a crucial economic driver in the UK and the West Midlands region”.