Labour MEPs to vote for EU action to save steel industry and protect UK jobs and communities

Labour MEPs will vote tomorrow for a report calling for EU action to tackle the crisis in the steel sector.

The report calls for a level playing field and seeks to limit dumping by countries like China – selling it at below the price it can fetch at home, or exporting it at below the cost of production. The UK steel sector faces tough challenges through a combination of rising steel prices, social dumping, an influx of cheap Chinese steel and increasing energy costs.

The steel industry is a vital part of the manufacturing sector in the UK and the EU – in the UK alone, the steel industry is made up of more than 24,000 individual enterprises which directly employ 330,000 people and is worth in excess of £45.5 billion to the UK economy.

Theresa Griffin MEP, Labour’s European Parliament spokesperson on industry, said:

“UK and EU steel production is in danger of disappearing. People who work in the steel industry are losing their jobs, both in the UK and across the EU as the sector confronts its most serious peacetime crisis ever.

“We have seen weeks of inaction by the Tory government. David Cameron’s lack of leadership and poor support for UK steel is only worsening the crisis in the sector.

“If the EU wants a balanced, healthy economy that is both sustainable and globally competitive we must develop a level playing field in Europe for our industry, and we should not rule out offering financial assistance to this vital sector when it is fair.

“Sadly this report has come too late to save the SSI plant in Redcar but it is vital that we take action now to provide a future for the remainder of the steel industry in the UK, and more broadly the EU.

“We must remember that this is not merely a technical issue, but is about putting food on the table for thousands of families, and ensuring that communities have the economies to thrive and prosper.”

Seb Dance MEP, Labour’s European spokesperson on environment, added:

“The problems in the UK steel sector have largely resulted from the government’s unwillingness to take action against unfair trade practices by, amongst others, the Chinese.

“Whilst it is essential that the government takes all possible action at the national level to alleviate the situation, it is incumbent on us at the EU level to improve aspects of EU legislation that will help level the playing field for our industry.”