Today Yorkshire and Humber MEPs, Richard Corbett and Linda McAvan, joined other Labour members, and their Socialist and Democrat group in the European Parliament, to urge the EU leaders who will meet tomorrow in Brussels to take immediate measures help the European base steel companies, some of which may have to close or halve their manpower in a few weeks if nothing is done.
As Jude Kirton-Darling, Labour MEP for the NE, made clear yesterday, the survival of steel manufacture is essential to our economy, and the Socialist and Democrat group, of which Labour is part, have produced a report showing what can be done to ensure that, in the medium and long term. In the short term, as Jude says “The fact that the Conservative Government has cried crocodile tears whilst taking no action is quite simply a travesty and shows that they are more interested in sticking to an unworkable ideology than helping British citizens or industry. The fact they are claiming this ( i.e. help to the steel industry) is not allowed under EU rules is both false and is an example of the Government’s ideological position on state intervention and latent Euroscepticism, while British people suffer.” http://m.huffpost.com/uk/entry/8811502
S&D MEP Edouard Martin, who is the author of the report calling for a sustainable European base metal industry, said today:
“There is no time to waste; thousands of jobs are at risk. I hope that heads of state and government at tomorrow’s meeting will take their responsibility seriously.
“The steel sector hast lost more than 60 000 jobs directly and over 100 000 jobs indirectly since 2008. It is now going through the most serious peacetime crisis ever, with the industrial manufacturing sectors more dependent on imports from third countries and a loss of industrial know-how. In the meantime, global overcapacity is estimated to be between 300 million and 400 million tonnes, mainly in China. So we need measures to support EU industry while using the EU trade defence mechanisms (see press release http://www.socialistsanddemocrats.eu/newsroom/sds-say-it-too-soon-grant-market-economy-status-china)”
“The European steel sector has always been at the heart of the European integration process and represents the basis of European industrial added value and European value chains. It plays a key role in the development of the overall economy, both technologically and in overcoming supply bottlenecks.”
S&D spokesperson on energy and industry, MEP Dan Nica, said:
“This report comes at a crucial time, we are facing a difficult crisis for the sector in several member states and we are also discussing the review of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). We Socialists and Democrats have already called for the urgent review of the ETS because it is now hurting some sectors in our industry.
“The high prices charged in Europe and dumping done by third countries have led to the rapid deindustrialisation of the steel sector, which faces significant challenges. I believe that a harmonised compensation mechanism should be granted at a European level to ensure a level playing field in relation to global competitors and European manufacturers, and also provide effective protection against carbon leakage.
“The European Union needs a solid and competitive industry, with quality jobs, so we need to bring our steel industry back to competitiveness.”
Saving our steel industry involves Europe-wide moves – including e.g. against Chinese dumping – moves which would be impossible if we were simply acting at national level; and which would certainly not be taken by our committed neo-con Tory government.