Ocel vychodu · 24/2015
European steelmakers demand urgent implementation of protective measures
Following on from the extraordinary session of the EU Council for Competitiveness which took place in Brussels on November 9 with the aim of discussing the crisis in the European steel industry, and at which the Slovak Republic was represented by Trade and Industry Minister Vazil Hudák, this very serious topic will be the focus of attention at the next session of the Foreign Affairs Council on Trade planned for November 27. The agenda for the session includes a discussion on trade relations with China, whose subsidized steel industry exports products to Europe for sale unfairly below the market price, causing serious problems for European producers.
Another point on the agenda will cover the preparations for the 10th World Trade Organization (WTO) Conference in Nairobi between December 15-18 this year. Here the focus of protests from the European steelmakers will be the granting to China of market economy status, since their Chinese competitors are able to sell steel cheaply partly because their production operations are subsidized by the government. Supported by the labor unions, the steelmakers demand the urgent introduction in Europe of protective trade measures against unfair imports. Steel is a globally tradable product, so it is indispensable to have the same conditions for all producers worldwide. In the EU the introduction of protective measures takes up to two years on average, which is much too slow a reaction, and such slowness could well lead to the closure of factories and reduction in employment. This is what happened in Britain in October, where 19 per cent of the total workforce in the steelmaking industry was lost in the course of just one month. It is extremely important for Slovak steelmakers as well that protective measures should be implemented within the EU as soon as possible, with the aim of averting a critical and irreversible situation.
European employers on migration and climate
Miroslav Kiražvarga, U. S. Steel Koice Vice President External Relations, Administration and Business Development, in his role as President of the National Union of Employers in the Slovak Republic, took part last week in the meeting of the Council of Presidents of the Confederation of European Business, or BUSINESSEUROPE, which was held in Luxemburg on 19-20 November. In addition to current topics such as the migration and asylum situation, developments in Greece, or the election results in Poland and Turkey, the participants also focused on macroeconomic and social issues. In connection with the upcoming climate summit in Paris, there was an especially important discussion on the conclusions of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, which has been helping governments, industry and society since 2013 in decision-making on how to achieve economic prosperity and development also taking into account climate change.
"There will certainly be discussions at the summit about which parts of the new proposal regarding climatic changes should be legally binding, and which not," Miroslav Kiražvarga informed us. "Individual countries have different opinions on this. As the European Union remains the leader in reducing emissions, we need to know whether and how the industrial sectors working on the global markets will be regulated. Only global, that is world-wide solutions make any sense in the case of climatic change. Many countries agree provisionally with the rules of transparency and accountability, but we shall see to what extent," he remarked on the subject of the summit's key issues. It is worth pointing out that this meeting in Paris will be the 21st summit dealing with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Meeting of industriAll Europe Basic Metals Committee
On November 17 and 18 there was a meeting in the southern Italian city of Taranto of labor union officials from particular member states of the European Union representing employees in the industrial sector of metals production, but especially steelmaking. The agenda of the meeting, which was attended by KOVO U. S. Steel Koice Labor Union Council Chairman Mikulá Hinto, who is also a member of the Basic Metals Committee of the European labor union industriAll Europe, included a discussion on the complicated situation in the steelmaking area as a result of steel production experiencing problems which the producers themselves are not able to resolve even in cooperation with their social partners.
Dumping prices for imported steel products from countries outside of Europe, above all from China, coupled with unrealistic requirements for emissions reduction and high energy prices, are forcing our steelmaking companies into a blind alley. Labor unions and employers associations alike on both European and national levels must demand urgent solutions from representatives of individual governments and the European Commission as a whole. The fact that this meeting took place in Taranto was also part of its symbolism. This is the home of the ILVA works, the largest steelworks in Europe. It was only saved from bankruptcy however by the Italian Government, which stepped in the take the ailing company into direct administration.