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EU ministers fail to tackle European steel industry's woes

EU ministers have said they will hold talks later this year to tackle Europe's deteriorating steel industry, failing to reach an agreement. Industry leaders called the EU's latest proposal an 'existential threat.'

EU industry and economy ministers on Monday failed to hash out an agreement to bolster Europe's hard-hit steel industry, instead settling for talks to be held later this year.

"The Council agreed on the gravity of the situation as well as on the need to take concrete actions that will help ensure the long-term viability of a modern European steel sector," the Council of the EU, chaired by Luxembourg, said in a statement.

The meeting came as Europe's steel industry has shed around 5,000 jobs in the sector in the past three months.

"We need to find solutions in order to make our steel industry more competitive again and to stop these job losses, which we have been facing for a few years, and especially over the last months," said Luxembourg's Economy Minister Etienne Schneider at a press conference following the ministerial meeting.

Watch video 02:33

Europe's limp steel industry | DW News

'Existential threat'

However, industry representatives believe the EU - which is the world's second-largest steel producer - is not taking sufficient steps to address issues such as import volumes and dumping, a term used for the process of undercutting prices.

European Steel Association (Eurofer)'s Director General Axel Eggert said in October that the EU's latest proposal will put "viability of the steel industry…at risk."

"This proposal presents an existential threat to the 330,000 jobs that the industry supports," Eggert said in a statement.

China production

China, the world's largest steel producer and consumer, has been criticized by industry leaders and the EU for implementing unfair trade practices.

"China's steel market is loss-making, so how can prices fall? These losses must be covered by subisidies or other measures," said Karl-Ulrich Koehler, head of Tata Steel Europe, referring to Chinese flat export prices dropping 40 percent in 2015, according to Eurofer figures.

In March, the EU slapped new duties on Chinese and Taiwanese cold-rolled stainless steel following complaints of unfair competition filed by Eurofer.

ls/jm (Reuters, dpa)

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