Brussels, 11 June 2013
Commission presents an action plan for the steel sector
The European Commission today put forward an action plan for the European Steel Industry to help this sector confront today’s challenges and lay the foundations for future competitiveness by fostering innovation, creating growth and jobs. For the first time since the Davignon Plan of 1977, the Commission is proposing an Action Plan for steel. The Commission proposes to support demand for EU-produced steel both at home and abroad, by acting to ensure EU steel producers have access to third country markets through fair trade practices. The European Commission is also committed to cutting costs for the industry, including those arising from EU regulation. Innovation, energy efficiency and sustainable production processes are vital for the next generation steel products essential for other key European industries. The Action Plan also foresees targeted measures to support employment in the sector and accompany the restructuring to ensure that highly skilled labour is retained in Europe (MEMO/13/523).
European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: "The steel industry has a promising future in Europe. By continuing to lead in innovative products, its traditional strength, it can achieve a globally competitive edge. With today’s blueprint for the revival of the steel sector, we send a clear signal to the industry that it is a strategically important sector for Europe and a motor for growth. The EU needs its real economy more than ever to underpin the economic recovery and we aim for industry to deliver 20% of GDP by 2020. This is the start of a process; I am committed to monitoring the situation carefully so we can adapt our efforts as needed. Within a year, we will look at whether the actions proposed are having the effect we aim for."
Important challenges for the steel industry
The European steel industry finds itself hit by the simultaneous effects of low demand and worldwide overcapacity whilst at the same time being confronted with high energy prices and investment needs to adjust to the green economy by producing innovative products in a sustainable manner.
… but global steel demand will increase
Steel demand in Europe is currently 27% below the pre-crisis level. Employment in the sector fell by 10% from 2007 to 2011. Despite this, the EU is still the second largest producer of steel in the world, with an output of over 177 million tonnes of steel a year, accounting for 11% of the global output and employing over 360 000 people.
According to the OECD, global steel demand is expected to increase to 2,3 billion tonnes by 2025, mainly from the construction, transport and mechanical engineering sectors, in particular in emerging economies. It is vital that the EU steel industry is fit to take full advantage of this competitive market.
The current situation requires a new political strategy for the steel sector. Therefore the Commission is:
The Commission proposes to formally create a High-Level Group, which will oversee the implementation of the plan. The Commission will take stock of the progress made in 12 months.
With a workforce of 360,000 people, turnover of around €170 bn and a presence in the manufacturing value chain of many downstream sectors, the steel industry has a strategic place in the economy.
Steel is closely linked to many other downstream industrial sectors such as automotive, construction, electronics, mechanical and electrical engineering. It has a very significant cross-border dimension: within the EU, 500 production sites are spread around 23 Member States, making it a truly European industry both historically and today. Steel was at the birth of the European project with the European Coal and Steel Community.
Europe needs its basic industries, to help other industries with the re-industrialization process. Materials like steel, chemicals, glass and cement are essential elements of the industrial value chain for greening the economy. Steel is 100% recyclable and is the most basic material in the manufacturing value chain of a product.