European Commission Vice President responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship
SPEECH: Press statement of Vice-President Tajani of 19 February 2013 on the state of the European steel industry
Press Conference / Brussels
19 February 2013
I would like to tell you about the meeting I had this afternoon with Lakshmi N Mittal, global CEO of the ArcelorMittal Group.
The meeting is the result of the public appeal I launched exactly a week ago. I would remind you that, in the light of the combined approach of three governments (France, Belgium and Luxembourg), I called on the ArcelorMittal Group to wait for the Action Plan for the European Steel Industry to be approved, scheduled for June 2013, before taking final decisions on the future of the Liège and Florange sites.
Following my appeal, I am in a position to inform you that ArcelorMittal has made the following three commitments:
The Florange and Liège sites will not be closed. There will be a reduction in capacity, but this will be accompanied by an investment plan of EUR 180 million for Florange and around EUR 140 million for Liège. Both sites will become highly specialised in high-end products for the automotive and packaging industries, among others.
The staff at Florange and Liège affected by the reduction in capacity will also have the possibility of being transferred to other sites of the ArcelorMittal Group. I would point out that the Group has other fully operational sites in France, Belgium and other Member States.
Finally, ArcelorMittal has also made a commitment to postpone other restructuring plans in Europe pending approval of the Action Plan. I also draw your attention to this commitment because the Group has nearly 98 000 workers in Europe and has a presence in several Member States.
A week ago, I launched a political appeal. Today, Europe’s leading producer replied with several concrete commitments. I welcome this move. It is a step in the right direction and I will say this publicly. I believe that other stakeholders such as governments and trade unions must also take some steps in the right direction. Overcoming this crisis is a collective task. Everyone must pull their weight.
For its part, the Commission is strongly committed to preparing the Action Plan for the European Steel Industry, which I plan to have approved in June.
I made a public appeal to ArcelorMittal, but I am doing the same thing in relation to other European operators. I do not wish to and cannot interfere with the decisions of companies. On the contrary, I am the first to call for free enterprise in Europe, but I want to underscore the importance of this Action Plan we are preparing which, at long last, will contain measures to assist the steel industry. I call upon the Member States, the industry and the trade unions to work together on this new strategy for the future.
I conclude with a more general comment on policy. From 1951, the European project was built on the basis of coal and steel. But after the expiry of the ECSC Treaty in 2002, the steel sector was rather left to its own fate. So it is time to take a new interest in steel. We need steel, not only for the construction and automotive industries, but also if we want to take advantage of our sources of green growth. The steel sector remains a strategic sector for Europe, and we must join forces to overcome this crisis together. Indeed, President Barroso has asked us to focus our endeavours on growth, employment and competitiveness, and I am now therefore setting to work on developing an ambitious plan for the future of the European steel industry.