German steel association: EU plan must focus on recovery and transformation

by David Fleschen

The EU Commission will present a plan for economic recovery tomorrow. The aim of the Recovery Plan is to cushion the negative effects of the Corona crisis on the economy and society. The steel industry in Germany regards the recovery plan as an important instrument to accompany the economic relaunch. Hans Jürgen Kerkhoff, President of the Wirtschaftsvereinigung Stahl: "In view of the deep crisis facing the economy and in particular the steel industry, a comprehensive package of measures is needed at national and European level. The aim must be to stabilize demand on the one hand, and to relieve the industry on the other hand and to set investment incentives in the right way. This is the only way to ensure that the Green Deal objectives can be achieved despite the current upheavals.

The steel industry in Germany and Europe is currently being hit hardly by a dramatic slump in demand in key customer sectors due to the corona pandemic. At the same time, the EU is threatened with a massive steel import crisis if the EU Commission does not swiftly tighten protective measures in the form of the EU Safeguards. "The future of industrial value chains also depends on whether we succeed in preventing an import crisis for steel. Without a corresponding adjustment of the EU protective measures in foreign trade, the economic restart and thus one of the core objectives of the Recovery Plan is threatened", explains Kerkhoff.

From the steel industry's point of view, the Recovery Plan should particularly serve to pave the way to a climate-neutral industry. The transformation of steel production towards low CO2 processes involves enormous investments and costs which cannot be shouldered by the industry alone in global competition. "In order to be able to master this mammoth task, the steel industry needs concrete support - especially in the form of subsidies for low-carbon processes, lead markets for green steel and investments in hydrogen infrastructure. At the same time - in view of the current discussion about tightening up climate targets - no new burdens must be added to energy and climate policy. For example, the allocation in European emissions trading must not be further reduced. The Recovery Plan offers an opportunity to set the right course," said the association's president.

Source: Wirtschaftsvereinigung Stahl, Photo: Fotolia

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