EU Safeguard extension already decided?
EU Safeguard extension already decided?

12 February 2024 – Last Friday, the European Commission unsurprisingly opened an investigation into a possible extension of the EU Safeguard measure on certain steel products. But is this really a genuine procedure or just a waste of time and already decided?

EU Safeguard extension already decided?

Last Friday, the European Commission unsurprisingly opened an investigation into a possible extension of the EU Safeguard Measure to certain steel products.

Investigation comes hardly as a surprise

Unsurprisingly, because one of the main reasons, the S232 steel and aluminum tariffs in the United States continue to exist and there was no agreement between the EU and the US regarding a Global Arrangement on Sustainable Steel and Aluminum in December 2023. In the negotiations on the GASSA, it was only possible to agree that there was no consensus and a possible successful outcome to the negotiations was postponed for a further 15 months.

Safeguard extension demanded by 14 member states

14 EU member states, including the four largest EU member states Germany, Italy, France and Spain, subsequently requested and urged the European Commission to initiate a corresponding investigation on 12 January 2024.

The conclusion should already be clear

Even if, from the outside, this will now all take place within the tight legal framework of the relevant EU regulations and the EU steel producers’ association EUROFER naturally welcomes this development, the outcome is probably already clear. The EU Safeguard Measure will be extended to the maximum possible term of 8 years in accordance with WTO regulations.

Political will, billions in subsidies and the steel lobby

Whatever data was provided by the responsible ministries in the member states, this is primarily about the political will of 14 member states. It doesn’t matter that the economic situation in the European Union is deliberately portrayed by the manufacturers’ associations as worse than it really is. For billions in subsidies, there are also corresponding votes from the large corporations, which can also skillfully stage themselves through their trade unions.

Data situation for EU Safeguard extension more than shaky

A superficial analysis of the data on which the member states and the Commission have based their shaky Safeguard investigation is enough to prove this. The data situation paints a much better picture than the one painted and disseminated by steel manufacturers and the Commission in recent years.

But the fact that real data does not count for the EU has already been seen with CBAM and the anti-circumvention investigations against stainless steel in recent months and years. The easiest way to recognize the farce that this investigation represents is that they apparently simply copied the old text templates from January 2021, adapted them a little and then forgot to reassign the submitted file names properly – more than once.

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