The tsunami of closures and sackings which the Euro has unleashed on the southern economies of the zone has now washed up as a wave of closures of heavy plant here in the UK. We do not suffer the intense misery of the fixed exchange rates and EU managed budgets afflicting Greece, Spain and Portugal, but we are suffering from the dear energy policy and from the lack of EU action over fair trade in steel.
I have often warned of the threat of EU policy to energy intensive business in the UK. Our aluminium industry has already been dealt bad blows, and our petrochemical and chemical industry is struggling. Today the threats to steel are large. Redcar has been closed. Llanwern and Scunthorpe are under review.
The steel industry has made three requests of the government at its Steel Summit this week. The first is to get our energy prices down. Under EU rules this is difficult or illegal. However, Germany subsidises her heavy industry to combat this problem. All the time we remain in this job destroying body we may need to do the same. The subsidies are needed to offset the high costs of energy built into the energy policies. The longer term solution is to have our own cheaper energy policy based on more modern gas fired power stations and based on the extraction and creation of more of our own energy.
The second is business rate relief. This too would be a possibly legal way of assisting our industry at a time of cut throat competition from abroad threatening to destroy our domestic capacity. Taking a smaller percentage in tax now would be better than attempting to sustain a higher percentage of nothing once the plants have closed.
The third is anti dumping cases where foreign suppliers are dumping. Proving that is never easy , but as the custodians of our trade policy the EU could at least try to do that to help.
The UK is going to need a lot of steel to build cars in our successful motor industry, to modernise and expand the railway, to add to the stock of taller offices and flats in our main cities, to sustain our oil, gas and petrochemical industry and for many other uses. This is worth fighting for. It once again highlights just how much damage to jobs and living standards some EU policies do.