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'New EU steel import quotas could harm Europe's wind sector'

Good quality and cost-competitive steel is vital for the continent's wind manufacturing industry, writes WindEurope boss Giles Dickson

Access to good quality and cost-competitive steel has been a key pillar in the success of the European wind industry. It has enabled the industry to thrive alongside conventional energy sources and in markets outside Europe.

But recent moves by the European Commission to make existing safeguard measures on steel imports even more restrictive could put all that at risk. An EU regulation that entered into force on 1 October means that the annual increase of steel import quota volumes will now be limited to 3%, instead of 5% as it was before.

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These measures are damaging the European wind industry’s ability to source optimally. And this undermines the industry’s cost and quality competitiveness. Many of the quotas on products that are of significant importance to the European wind industry are set to be fully used up. These quotas cover steel plates, used in the manufacturing of wind turbine towers, and sheets of non-grain-oriented electrical steel, used to make motors and generators.

The European wind industry supports and relies upon a strong and profitable European steel industry, which remains the wind industry’s principal supplier of steel. But the industry also relies upon imports of steel from third countries when European manufacturers are not able to supply us with the quality and scale required under our project delivery timelines.

The tightened safeguard measures will have a negative impact on the 300,000 people working in the wind industry in Europe. But they will also hit the sales of European steel manufacturers, for whom we are by far the biggest clients. In short, if wind turbine manufacturers are unable to access the raw materials they need, they will go elsewhere. With its restrictive trade policies, Europe risks pushing its world-leading wind industry away. This would be nothing less than a tragedy.

We call on the European Commission to consider the needs of the whole wind industry supply chain, rather than a threat of serious injury to the steel sector that has not been convincingly demonstrated.

Hundreds of thousands of high-skilled and green jobs in Europe are at stake.

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