|Trade Defence: Commission extends anti-dumping duties on steel ropes and cables from China for another five years
Following a review the Commission today decided to continue imposing anti-dumping duties on imports of Chinese steel ropes and cables. Anti-dumping duties of 60.4% have been in place since 1999 and this is the third expiry review, extending measures at the same level for a further 5 years. As a result of a previous anti-circumvention investigation, products consigned from Morocco and the Republic of Korea are also subject to these duties.The expiry review investigation found evidence that dumping from Chinese companies would continue should measures be allowed to lapse, which would have a negative financial impact on the EU steel industry. Steel ropes and cables have a wide variety of uses, including in the fishing, maritime, mining, forestry and constructions sector. The EU market is estimated to be worth around €500 million and the EU industry is present in at least 14 Member States, including Germany, Italy, Poland and the UK.The steel sector is a vital industry for the European Union’s economy and occupies a central position in global value chains, providing jobs for hundreds of thousands of European citizens. The global surplus in steelmaking capacity has driven down steel prices to unsustainable levels in recent years and had a damaging impact on the steel sector, as well as related industries and jobs. The EU is using therefore the full potential of its trade defence toolbox to ensure a level-playing-field for its producers and their ability to maintain jobs in the sector. 53 measures are now in place on steel and iron products, including 27 on products coming from China. The regulation can be found here.
Safer and cleaner cars: Commission welcomes European Parliament green light to tightening rules
Following the political agreement reached in December 2017, yesterday the European Parliament formally voted in favour of the Commission’s proposal for a fully overhauled type-approval framework. Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, welcomed the vote: “One important complaint we heard on Dieselgate was that the EU failed to act. In reality our margin of manoeuvre was limited. We now agreed on a fundamental reform that gives the Commission the power to make sure manufacturers will no longer get away with cheating. The new rules will give us cleaner cars on our way to zero emission and safer cars for the roll-out of autonomous driving.” The new framework will raise the quality level and independence of vehicle type-approval and testing, increase checks of cars that are already on the EU market and strengthen the overall system with European oversight. After formal adoption in Council in the coming weeks and publication in the Official Journal, the Regulation will become mandatory as of 1 September 2020 for all new vehicle models. The new rules go hand in hand with other Commission initiatives such as the proposal for a new deal for consumers, which in a Dieselgate-type scenario will allow victims of unfair commercial practices to obtain remedies collectively through a representative action. In its efforts to bring down emissions from vehicles the Commission has introduced new and improved car emissions tests which became mandatory in September 2017. The Commission recently held a public consultation on its proposal to further improve these tests. This proposal will be voted on in the Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles (TCMV) in the coming weeks.
State aid: Commission approves €56 million public support scheme to promote shift of freight from road to rail in Sweden
The European Commission has found a Swedish public support scheme to encourage a shift of freight transport from road to rail to be in line with EU State aid rules. The measure will promote EU environmental and transport objectives, whilst maintaining competition in the Single Market. In Sweden, around 40% of freight is transported by road, 40% by water and just over 20% by rail. The new scheme has an overall budget of SEK 563 million (approximately €56 million) and will run until 2019, and aims to increase the share of rail transport. The aid takes the form of a subsidy to railway companies that carry freight, with the objective of channelling part of the advantage to end customers, incentivising them to switch to rail transport. The Commission found that the scheme is beneficial for the environment and mobility, supporting rail transport, which is less polluting than road transport, while also decreasing road congestion. The Commission concluded that the measure is compatible with EU State aid rules, in particular the 2008 Commission Guidelines on State aid for railway undertakings. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website in the public case register under the case number SA.49749. (
Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete in Egypt for new strategic partnership on energy
Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete will be in Egypt on 22-24 April for a high-level visit with government officials and energy stakeholders. He will meet the President of the Egyptian Republic, His Excellency Abdelfatah Al-Sisi, and members of the Egyptian Government, namely the Prime Minister, the Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy and the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources. On behalf of the Commission he will sign a Memorandum of Understanding for Strategic Cooperation in Energy between the EU and Egypt. The Commissioner will also meet with European energy companies and open the EU-Egypt Sustainable Energy Business Forum & Exhibition. Furthermore, an on-site visit to the Zohr onshore gas facility in Port Said is foreseen. The visit is a key element of the external dimension of the Energy Union, a political priority of the Juncker Commission. Ahead of his visit, Commissioner Arias Cañete said: “The EU and Egypt are strategic partners on energy. The potential for an even closer energy cooperation between the EU and Egypt is enormous, and I hope this visit will herald a new phase of closer and more intense relations amongst us. Egypt can lead the way of the clean energy transition in the Eastern Mediterranean and thus contribute to the Paris climate goals and the worldwide decarbonisation effort. Likewise, Egypt is becoming an upcoming important gas and electricity hub that can provide energy security for the EU and for the entire region. There is much to gain in terms of access to new sources of energy and market opportunities, for European and Egyptian citizens and businesses alike. The EU stands ready to support Egypt in its energy market reforms and to boost sustainable energy investment.” More information on the website of the Commission’s website.
Hannover industrial show: Commission debates EU Industrial Strategy
On 22-23 April, Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and Commissioners Günther H. Oettinger and Elżbieta Bieńkowska participate in the Hannover Messe 2018, one of the world’s largest trade fairs. In 2016, the Commission presented the EU’s Strategy for low-emission mobility and in 2017 the renewed Industrial Policy Strategy – both advocating a Europe that embraces technological change and continues pioneering on smart, innovative and sustainable industry. The Commissioners will take the opportunity to engage with the most daring and forward-looking businesses – be it in the field of automation, batteries, digital innovation or software development. Vice-President Šefčovič and Commissioner Oettinger will attend the official opening ceremony together with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. Vice-President Šefčovič participates in a dialogue on the EU Battery Alliance and delivers a key note speech on the future of EU mobility. The speech will be followed by a panel discussion focused on automation and decarbonisation, which Commissioner Bieńkowska also joins. Both will meet Mr Stephan Weil, Prime Minister of Lower Saxony (Germany). Commissioner Bieńkowska will furthermore hold separate meetings with Ildefonso Guajardo Real, Minister of Economy of Mexico, and Dieter Kempf, President of the Federation of German Industries (BDI). Commissioner Oettinger will participate in a lunch discussion with representatives of industries on investing in industrial digitisation. He will also deliver keynote speeches at two events on digital transformation.
Culture: Commissioner Navracsics attends international cultural heritage forum in Brussels
Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth, and Sport, Tibor Navracsics will participate in the ‘Forum on the International Perspectives of the European Year of Cultural Heritage’ in Brussels on Monday, 23 April. The event will highlight the international aspect of cultural relations and start a wider discussion on how culture – in the framework of the European Year and beyond – can improve relations between countries and communities. Commissioner Navracsics said: “Diplomacy is often led by politicians. Cultural diplomacy is different. It empowers citizens and civil society to recognise the intertwined nature of our societies, history and culture in the hope they can build a better tomorrow. The European Year of Cultural Heritage is a true embodiment of that aspiration and the perfect catalyst to promote the EU’s international strategy.” Organised by the Cultural Diplomacy Platform, the Forum is a concrete outcome of the EU strategy for international cultural relations launched by Commissioner Navracsics and EU High Representative and Vice-President Federica Mogherini in June 2016. Central to that strategy is the acknowledgement of culture as a resource that helps drive economic growth and strengthen international partnerships. A Spotlight brochure on the European Year of Cultural Heritage is available online. The closing remarks will be covered by EbS.