German federal states demand fair competitive conditions for their steel industries
by David Fleschen
The eleven federal states with steel locations have adopted a resolution to work towards fair competitive conditions for the domestic steel industry.
Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia - adopted a resolution in Berlin on Monday, 29 January, in which they call on the federal government to work towards fair competitive conditions for the domestic steel industry.
Saarland organised and led the joint meeting. The meeting at the Saarland state representation in Berlin was attended by the participating state ministers as well as Federal Minister Dr Robert Habeck and top representatives of the German Steel Federation and IG Metall.
Specifically, the member states are calling on the German government to strengthen Germany as a steel location and create better investment prospects. To this end, a level playing field should be created at European and international level. With regard to the electricity price level, the Alliance praises the federal government's decision to reduce the electricity tax for the manufacturing industry to the European minimum level, but at the same time warns that an internationally competitive price is still a long way off. In particular, a stabilisation of grid fees and bridge financing of the electricity price for energy-intensive industry are required.
Another focus of the meeting was the future transformation of the steel industry following the judgement of the Federal Constitutional Court. In principle, the Alliance welcomes the fact that the German government wants to continue its programmes for the decarbonisation of industry and the development of the hydrogen economy. However, clarity about the process must be created as quickly as possible.
The members of the Steel Alliance are asking the German government to ensure that state funding is also made available to SMEs in the sector in the long term along the entire transformation path. This should ensure planning security and maintain competitiveness. In addition, the countries of the Steel Alliance are asking the federal government to provide targeted support for the industry's transformation efforts by accelerating the expansion of renewable energies. Furthermore, the federal government should advocate the introduction of green lead markets for the basic industries at EU level.
The transformation of the steel industry should also be secured in terms of foreign trade. To this end, the German government is called upon to advocate a temporary continuation of the steel safeguards at European level until mid-2026 if possible in order to avoid trade diversion that distorts competition. In addition, the EU's anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures should be consistently applied and regularly reviewed for their effectiveness.
Robert Habeck, Federal Minster for Economic affairs commented: "The decarbonisation of the steel industry is crucial for a successful transformation towards climate neutrality. Even after the judgement of the Federal Constitutional Court, the German government remains firmly on the path it has taken, including with the four major steel projects selected for the IPCEI Hydrogen and the climate protection agreements. The aim is to keep the steel industry in Germany, make it climate-neutral and fit for the future. We can only achieve this by working closely with the federal states, the industry and the trade unions. I am therefore delighted about the initiative for today's meeting, which emphasises the unity of the federal and state governments with regard to the key areas of action and challenges for the German steel industry."
"The steel companies in Germany are consistently focussing on climate neutrality, are in the middle of the first phase of their transformation and are grateful for the support they have received so far from the steel states and the Federal Ministry of Economics. Because a clear political perspective is also needed for the next steps, we welcome the resolution adopted today, as it contains a strong commitment to Germany as an industrial location and calls on our federal government to now focus on the next implementation steps. And this implementation roadmap requires focus and speed: competitive electricity prices are particularly urgent as an indispensable basis for our production, but just as important are the expansion of renewable energies and the associated grids, the hydrogen ramp-up with the corresponding infrastructure, fair international trading conditions and the creation of green lead markets", said Kerstin Maria Rippel, Managing Director of the German Steel Federation.
Source and Photo: Saarland