East Midlands MEP calls for real EU action to help the steel industry

East Midlands Conservative MEP Emma McClarkin has pledged to continue fighting for effective European action to help the steel industry after Conservatives voted against proposed measures they fear could spark a trade war with China.

The European Parliament this week approved a report calling for the introduction of a complex system of border measures on imported steel, aluminium and other base metals based on the amount of carbon emitted during their production.

These are intended to push up the cost of imports from countries such as China, which have flooded the European market and contributed to job losses across the EU, including at plants in the UK, such as Scunthorpe.

But Conservatives say the measures, which were supported by Labour and SNP MEPs, would be impossible to implement, may be illegal under World Trade Organisation rules, are not supported by the steel industry and could prompt damaging protectionist retaliation from the Chinese, hitting a range of sectors.

Instead they want the EU to follow the United States and make greater use of existing anti-dumping duties against China, to stem the tide of cheap imports.

Miss McClarkin, who is the Conservative International Trade Spokesperson in the European Parliament, has been pressuring the Commission over a number of weeks on this issue, but believes any action to combat unfair trading practices must be effective.

She said:

“The British steel industry is facing unprecedented pressures and it is up to the Commission to act. For it to work, however, this must be done within the established rules. There is very little point on embarking on action that is unworkable, and instead we must play by the rules to encourage China to do the same.

“The way forward is to confirm that dumping is taking place and to take measures to prevent injury to our industry, such as anti-dumping duties.

“The steel industry needs practical help at a European level now, rather than unrealistic and ideological measures like this, which have zero chance of becoming law.”

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