UK govt's failure to back EU action on steel is making the crisis worse and putting thousands of jobs at risk, warn Labour MEPs

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The European Commission today reiterated its desire to take action that will help the British steel industry - action the UK government is continuing to block.

Officials from the Commission's trade directorate met today with Linda McAvan, MEP for Yorkshire and Humber, and Jude Kirton-Darling, MEP for North East England and a member of the European Parliament international trade committee, following revelations that the UK government are still refusing to back EU action against the importation of cheap Chinese steel, which has led to the current crisis in the industry.

Also at the meeting were the chair and director of the Industrial Communities Alliance, a group of local authorities in traditional industrial areas such as steel towns and former mining areas, who have given their backing to the proposals.

Linda McAvan MEP said:

"Last month, the Commission launched new trade defence investigations which could potentially help the UK steel industry.

"Labour MEPs have been warning about the impending crisis in the steel industry for years and calling for a strengthening of EU trade defence measures. British steelworkers are calling for action and it very clear to us today that the UK government can do more to prevent the UK market from unfairly subsidised steel, and industry experts are also saying the same.

"The Commission have put a decent and concrete proposal on the table, yet David Cameron's government is still blocking all efforts for a European solution. In doing so, they are failing to tackle the crisis and taking risks with catastrophic consequences that could cost thousands of jobs."

Jude Kirton-Darling MEP added:

"The government stood by and let Redcar's steel plant close - today we have seen the latest unemployment figures showing the devastating impact on North East industrial communities.

"Our discussion with the European Commission this morning showed that the government hasn't done everything possible to save the British steel industry. They continue to block vital reforms of the EU's trade defence measures - the very tools needed to address the massive dumping of cheap steel into the UK and EU market which is undermining Tata plants.

"It may be too late for Redcar now but hopefully it’s not too late for other British steelworkers including 1400 in the North East. Looking ahead to the upcoming Trade Council in May, Labour MEPs are clear the UK government must stop blocking EU action and start engaging in saving this strategic industry."

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