Steel lobby Eurofer urges EU to review energy, climate policy
* EU, steelmakers to meet to discuss 'steel action plan'
* Eurofer says future of steelmaking in Europe not assured
* Says spiralling EU energy costs are unsustainable
By Maytaal Angel
LONDON, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Europe needs to urgently review costly energy and climate policies if it wants EU steelmaking to have a future, steel industry lobby Eurofer said on Tuesday.
Eurofer made the comments ahead of a Dec. 4 meeting of European regulators, lawmakers and top steelmakers to discuss measures to preserve the sector's global competitiveness, known as the "steel action plan".
"First efforts to improve the business environment for industry in Europe are now being studied by the Commission. However, the real emergency is the climate and energy policy in Europe," Eurofer Director General Gordan Moffat said in a statement.
Moffat said cumulative regulatory costs for EU steelmakers account for up to 30 percent of profits in "normal good years" and from 30 to over 100 percent of profits in the economic crisis years of 2009-2011.
The European Commission launched the steel action plan in June in a bid to stem a decline in Europe's steel industry, hit by a roughly 30 percent drop in demand since 2008 that has led to plant closures.
The plan aimed to cut red tape, boost innovation, create a level international playing field and study ways to lessen the burden of energy costs, which account for about 40 percent of steelmakers' operating expenses.
The Commission is also preparing an EU summit next year focussed on industry. Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani has warned that the continent faces an industrial decline unless it addresses high energy costs.
"The energy price differential between Europe and its competitors is unsustainable, yet little or nothing appears to be being done to find a solution. Energy-intensive industries are already leaving Europe," Moffat said.
EU industrial output has fallen to 15.1 percent of GDP from 15.5 percent last year, short of an informal goal of 20 percent by 2020, the Commission said previously in a report on industrial competitiveness.
The United States, meanwhile, has been reindustrialising with the help of cheap energy following its shale oil and gas boom.
In a bid to support flagging carbon prices in Europe, EU nations are seeking to approve a plan before the end of the year to cut the supply of carbon permits that companies must buy to cover their emissions.
EU mills were originally allocated more carbon permits than they needed to cover emissions, but recent measures mean that even the most carbon-lean EU mills will have to pay for a portion of their emissions.
"Exemptions from the costs for the decarbonisation of the EU are essential, at least as long as these costs are applied unilaterally by the EU. However, a draft Commission proposal foresees huge restrictions to such exemptions," Eurofer said. (Reporting by Maytaal Angel; editing by Jane Baird)
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