Maximum pressure for the European authorities to establish a "border rate" that prevents steel products manufactured in countries with lax environmental laws and without costs linked to CO2 emissionsflood the community market. Now, who has raised the voice has been the employers Business Europe, of which the Spanish CEOE is part, that in a recent report urges to put an end to this distortion that is putting European industry on the ropes. It is the same request that Arcelor-Mittal has made and also yesterday reaffirmed the Eurofer steelworks to stop the competition of the so-called "dirty steel" that comes from Turkey, Russia and China and that continues to enter the EU in large quantities despite the Safeguard measures approved in 2018 and 2019.
The fact is that in these countries environmental legislation is more permissive than European legislation and also less committed to the fight against climate change. Given this situation, some governments, with Macron in France at the head, have been defending for months that the solution would be the imposition of an "environmental tariff" (border adjustment, in technical jargon) to eliminate these distortions. The employers' association Business Europe affirms that "it is necessary to ensure that commercial defense instruments are efficient and effective when dealing with market distortions, and that they are useful for the community industry". He adds: "The EU needs to face this unfair competition due to subsidies that distort the commercial market."
Arcelor has been shown in several public appearances in favor of this rate. Said, for example, the president of the steel company, Aditya Mittal, who advocated a few months ago, during a presentation in Paris, for this shielding. "There are no equal conditions for everyone, the emissions trading regime (ETS) puts the burden on the cost of steel and not on the one consumed here, so we advocate for border taxes to end that inequality," he said.
The Principality is also aligned with that request. In fact, the warning of Arcelor-Mittal to extend the stop of one of the two ovens of the steelmaker (that was going to be in the dry dock to change the cooling system) has provoked a new start in Asturias. The regional government yesterday urged the central executive to "accelerate" the measures committed to the region in defense of the steel multinational and the Asturian industry. The counselor of the Presidency of the Principality and spokesman of the regional executive, Guillermo Martinez, listed yesterday the "urgent" needs that the central government must develop: the approval of the electrointensive industry statute and the distribution of aid for the indirect costs of CO2, for reduce the price of energy, and promote in the EU the implementation of the environmental tariff.
In the specific case of Arcelor-Mittal, the Director remarked that the last decisions of the multinational to paralyze facilities in Asturias and the warning that it could also do so with a high furnace are also marked by "other circumstantial factors", such as the price of the raw materials, the reduction of the demand of the market (especially automotive) and the entrance in Europe of products manufactured in Turkey and Russia at low cost that cause unfair competition. "The important thing is that the aforementioned measures are put in place as soon as possible.The environmental tariff depends on the European Union and are complex decision-making procedures, but the Government of Asturias has always opted for it and the EU has to react and support the steel industry and the products that have to compete in an unfair market, "he said.
The president of the FADE, Belarmino Feito, joined the request, acknowledging that the concern of Asturian businessmen about the situation of the industry "is on the rise". Therefore, he stressed the need for the Government and the European Union to adopt measures to protect the industry against the commercial war in Asian countries and the higher environmental costs that European companies must assume.
In this context, the steelmaker announced yesterday that it will extend two more days the stop of the hot band train (TBC) of Avilés, a key facility of the Asturian steelworks, and the cylinder train. These two workshops, which had already planned to stop producing seven days in June (3, 4, 10, 11, 12, 24 and 25 of that month), will also stop next Thursday and Friday.
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