The European Steel Association, EUROFER, called for more measures to protect the industry against a record increase in imports triggered by U.S. tariffs. This increase in finished-steel imports, combined with weak demand and high energy costs for local producers, threatens to force European companies to cut their production.

EUROFER estimates that steel demand in Europe was challenged by the 12% increase in imports registered in 2018, despite the European market growing by only 3.3%. The increase in imports happened despite current safeguard measures designed to limit incoming steel following the Trump Administration’s 25% import tariffs, which have effectively closed the U.S. market. EUROFER estimates that two thirds of the steel that used to go to the U.S. now ends up in the European Union.

EUROFER Chairman and CEO of Arcelor Mittal in Europe, Geert Van Poelvoorde, explained that “Today, our steel industry in Europe is at a critical juncture, facing a number of roads we could go down. These challenges have the potential to erase the whole steel industry in Europe.”

According to the Chairman, the EU response to the influx of steel is insufficient. In February, the EU set a maximum quota for imports above which importers must pay an additional tax. EU quotas are currently set at the average level of imports in 2015-2017 with an additional 5% tax, with further 5% hikes envisaged on July 1 and July 2020. The committee wants the EU to scrap or postpone the 5% increase and in favor of other tougher charges.

EUROFER argues that tougher EU steel safeguards would support local innovation in the sector and help the industry to successfully decarbonize.

If you want to learn more about EU steel industry safeguards, please visit Euronews or Steel Guru.