Nathan Gill MEP, UKIP’s leader in Wales said, said he was devastated at the news from Mumbai last night and the implications for the jobs of thousands employed both directly and indirectly by Tata’s Port Talbot steel plant and stated,
“Job losses in the UK steel industry reflect not just weak global demand and overcapacity, but government and EU rulings which force our workers to compete with their hands tied behind their back. The EU and its Renewables Directive have driven energy prices to ridiculous levels that simply drive key manufacturing industries offshore, not just to China, but also to countries such as the US which still have sensible energy policies. Coal is currently the cheapest energy source and there are millions of tons of the best quality coal in the world just a few miles up-valley from Port Talbot. Yet the EU has forced our coal plants to shut down through its Large Combustion Plants Directive, while the UK government has unilaterally banned the construction of new coal fired power stations (which are being built in Germany) through its Emissions Performance Standard.
“Crucially, the US is protecting its steel manufacturers, having applied anti-dumping duties of over 100% to some Chinese steel imports since November 2014, while it is only in the last month that the EU has taken any action and then only with much smaller tariffs of up to 25%.”
Jane Collins MEP, UKIP Employment spokesman said the news was, “not surprising but terribly sad all the same for people who have worked in the steel industry for their whole lives.
“How many jobs will have to be lost and how many industries disappear from our shores before this inept government realises that the combination of EU legislation and their own inability to make a thriving business environment is causing job losses, misery and hardship.
“Far from providing jobs, the combination of green tariffs, state aid rules and single trade policy points the finger of blame firmly at Brussels and the politicians here in the UK who support it.”
Roger Helmer MEP, UKIP Industry spokesman said,
“The decision of Tata to sell off the Port Talbot steelworks is a disaster for the workers and for the town. It is also a direct result of EU polices. We need to see it in context. Port Talbot is merely the latest closure. All over Europe, energy-intensive businesses are closing. Jobs are being lost. Investment is moving offshore, in search of cheaper energy and more realistic regulatory regimes.
“There are three main reasons for the Port Talbot closure, and they all result from EU policies:
“Energy Costs: Both the USA and China have substantially lower energy costs than the EU, where prices have been driven up by obsessive over-commitment to intermittent and unreliable renewables. We are closing reliable and economic coal-fired power plants and replacing them with wind turbines.
“Anti-Dumping measures: The USA has moved swiftly to impose heavy anti-dumping duties, in some categories over 200%, against Chinese steel. The EU meantime vacillates, and talks single figures. We may as well hang up a sign in Beijing: “Send your steel exports to Europe”.
“Short-term state aid: There may be a case for government intervention to give the steel industry a breathing space for restructuring – but that is not allowed under EU state aid rules.
“It is sickening to see Anna Soubry, Minister of State for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise, in the media insisting that “the government is doing all it can”, when she knows it can do practically nothing. Even more sickening to hear her arguing for Britain to remain in the EU, when she knows (or ought to know) that EU membership is closing down energy-intensive businesses across Europe.
“UKIP is the only party prepared to face up to this situation, and the only party with practical policies to offer hope to workers under threat”.