EU's Bienkowska calls for flexibility on state aid for steel

19 April 2016

The European Union should consider allowing members to subsidize their steel industries, which are suffering from a collapse in prices and carbon regulation, European Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Influential EU countries including France, Britain and Germany have asked the Commission to help the steel industry, which is battling an import surge from China in particular, with 10,000 steel jobs in Britain hanging in the balance.

"We have to discuss whether we can't be more flexible in our judgment of state aid," Bienkowska said in an interview with the German newspaper.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said last week the sector, which employs some 360,000 workers across the European Union, was a high-technology industry that needed investment and protection.

Bienkowska said European steelmakers - which include ArcelorMittal, Tata Steel and Thyssenkrupp - were at the limits of what they could achieve through the modernization of production.

"We cannot push this industry any further," she said, arguing that the cost of carbon dioxide emissions for energy-intensive industries should also be reviewed.

"The burden of emissions trading must also be a topic," said Bienkowska, the Polish commissioner, who is responsible for the EU internal market.


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