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UK Wants EU Steel Summit

The UK was once a powerhouse economy of heavy industry with a substantial coal mining, steel making, ship building and heavy engineering spine. Times change and the economy of the UK has shifted from heavy industry to the service sector with the City of London one of the world’s foremost financial hubs. The decline was partially due to philosophical, political reasons; the Conservatives believed that Socialists wielded too much power through their tight linkage with trade unions, but it was also simple market factors that saw the writing on the wall for much of UK heavy industry. Simply put, it became much cheaper to make iron and steel abroad and construct heavy engineering projects locally. However, some capacity has remained in the UK.

Current UK steel making is coming under threat because of a glut on the market due to a weakening in demand because of a global slowdown in construction projects.

The UK is calling for a summit meeting of the EU to discuss the crisis in steel making within Europe since the UK is not alone in being affected. Steel makers within Europe have long accused China of dumping subsidised steel into the European market and creating unfair competition. Thousands of jobs have been lost in the UK steel sector this year.

The UK business secretary, Sajid Javid, is seeking to raise British concerns with the EU Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom amongst other senior Commission officials. "I want to see steel top of the EU agenda. We cannot stand by while the steel industry across Europe, not just in the UK, faces such unprecedented challenges. The government wants to work with the EU and our European partners to do all we can to support our steel industry," Mr Javid told journalists. “The government wants to work with the EU and our European partners to do all we can to support our steel industry," he added. Of course, this type of pan European action would be more difficult if the UK decides to leave the EU at the end of 2017.

EU steel production involves high energy costs and producers must comply with strict environmental protection standards. In some competing countries, notably China, these factors do not apply making an uneven playing field for EU steelmakers.

Dr. Mike Campbell
About Dr. Mike Campbell
Dr. Mike Campbell is a British scientist and freelance writer. Mike got his doctorate in Ghent, Belgium and has worked in Belgium, France, Monaco and Austria since leaving the UK. As a writer, he specialises in business, science, medicine and environmental subjects.

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