European Commission to expedite steel safeguard review

The European Commission plans to accelerate its review of safeguard measures on EU imports of steel products, but the results are unlikely to be released before 1 July when the new quota period begins, commission sources have said.

The commission has been under pressure from EU mills to tighten the safeguard quotas, while buyers and traders have pushed for relaxation of the measures. It began the review of the measures on 17 May and previously expected to conclude the investigation before 30 September.

Finishing the review by 1 July would be difficult because of specific rules and procedures, but the commission intends to conclude it and modify the quotas if required as quickly as possible, the sources said.

The steel import quotas reset on 1 July, with exporters to the EU gaining access to the market again. The quota volumes for each product will rise by 5pc of the average of imports in 2015-17. The date is crucial for sellers of long products such as rebar and wire rod, as well as certain flats like galvanised steel used in the automotive industry.

EU buyers of steel products are lobbying for the loosening of the safeguards, while European mills are pushing to block the 5pc quota relaxation, as well as the addition of country-by-country quotas for imports of hot-rolled coils.