EU row over deal to save steel

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March 30, 2016 The Telegraph

Britain’s steel industry is facing extinction amid a row between ministers and the EU over support for the country’s last remaining plants.

Tata Steel, the firm that owns the remaining parts of the old British Steel, announced it was seeking a buyer for its entire UK business which it said was no longer viable.

Sources suggested the company would allow only weeks rather than months for a rescue deal.

Up to 15,000 workers in South Wales are at risk of losing their jobs amid claims that Britain faces the prospect of losing what some countries regard as a strategically important industry.

David Cameron and Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, were heading back to Britain on Wednesday to take part in emergency meetings on Thursday.

A package of support – potentially including government loans for buyers of the Port Talbot plant – is understood now to be under discussion.

On Wednesday Tata Steel suggested that EU rules restricting state aid were to blame for its decision to sell the UK steel business – a claim which was seized on by campaigners for Brexit.

Mr Javid, who has backed the Remain campaign despite previously harbouring major doubts over the EU, said on Wednesday night that Europe should do more to ensure “speedier action” to help save British steel.

However, senior Brussels sources hit back by claiming that Britain was instrumental in blocking a Brussels plan to raise tariffs on Chinese steel.

Chinese firms are accused of overproducing steel and dumping large amounts at a loss on Western markets.

EU tariffs on steel are currently just 9 per cent, compared with the United States which has levies of up to 236 per cent to deter such “dumping” and protect its steel manufacturers.

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