The European Parliament debated the crisis in the steel industry in Britain and across the European Union today.
Labour MEPs put pressure on the European Commission and UK government to act quickly and decisively to help industries struggling against unfair global competition and called for anti-dumping measures against cheap steel flooding the EU market.
In addition, they called for immediate action to support the development of sustainable base metal industries, a critical component of the European economy and a key local employer in the North East.
Jude Kirton-Darling, Member of the Industry, Reseach and Energy Committee, speaking from the European Parliament at Strasbourg said;
Let's make no bones about it; the European steel sector is in crisis. Sites are closing and thousands of well paid, high skilled jobs are being irrevocably lost.
We've had enough summits and high level meetings - now we need to see action.
It's clear that the global steel market is saturated with overcapacity - especially in China - driving down prices to unsustainable levels. We need to modernise and strengthen our trade defence tools to make them more effective: acting quicker, tackling social and environmental dumping & opening them up to give the workforce the ability to initiate complaints.
EU countries need to work together to ensure we maintain the vital base metals industry. Edouard Martin's report on developing a sustainable industry in Europe offers genuine long-term solutions to this crisis and if implemented correctly could put European steel on the path to a sustainable future. I will be voting for it, wholeheartedly, when it comes before the European Parliament plenary.
I am also calling on the UK Government to stop hiding behind their excuses, stop blocking the vital reform of EU trade defence measures, and recognise that steel is one of the strategic foundation industries on which all our manufacturing is based. Other Member States have supported their industries within EU state aid rules. Other countries believe in industrial policy - we have a Secretary of State who refuses to say he believes in our industries.
Anna Turley, Labour MP for Redcar, speaking from Westminster, said:
“I support Jude’s call for the UK Government to work constructively with the European Union to support and strengthen our steel industry. The government have hidden behind EU rules in a pathetic attempt to justify inaction. These rules do not prohibit government action, as many other countries have shown, and the current challenges facing steel are exactly the kind of situation where we are stronger together. The government need to get their act together, work with Europe to get the trade reforms needed, and back our industries before other steelmakers suffer the same fate as we have endured in Redcar.”