President of the Basque Country Íñigo Urkullu today (27 January) called upon the European institutions to put a stop to market dumping and “unfair competition” by Asian economies, particularly in regard to China and the steel sector.
Speaking after a meeting with European Commissioner for Climate Action Miguel Arias Cañete, Urkullu said that the European Union “must stay vigilant against measures that may create unfair competition” and urged Brussels to act immediately if it “still wants to be competitive in 2020”.
“The Basque Country wants to push for decisions at a European level to counter the Asian markets and their competitive practices that are based on selling steel below production costs (dumping),” he explained.
Urkullu said that the entire Basque delegation, as well as Cañete, shared the same concerns about the current situation regarding the steel industry and added that the European institutions are “aware of the situation”.
The president, or lehendakari in Basque, also said that the EU should not forget its origins as the European Coal and Steel Community, calling upon the bloc to be “watchful and active” in the face of unfair competition.
During his meeting with Cañete, Urkullu highlighted the need to promote “new industrial initiatives focused on innovation” in order to increase European competitiveness, said a statement issued by the Basque government’s Brussels delegation.
The meeting came a day after steel manufacturer ArcelorMittal announced that it would be closing its plant in Sestao, which is in the Basque Country, involving the layoff of 335 employees. The company said that it had succumbed to pressure exerted by cheap Chinese imports.
The president led a Basque delegation that today opened a Committee of the Regions event that was focused on technology and organised in conjunction with Scotland. The aim was to promote “coordination between regions in order to foster new industrial growth”.
Opening the seminar, Urkullu said that by “working together, we can transform industry, accelerate European growth and generate new opportunities for meaningful employment.”
He reiterated that the Basque Country “remains committed” to promoting interregional collaboration “in order to better respond to businesses’ needs, enhance their capacity for innovation and facilitate internationalisation”.
Among the projects on which the Basque Country and Scotland are collaborating is a pan-European value-chain in the renewable marine energy sector.
The Basque leader also took the opportunity to meet with the Committee of the Regions’ president, Markku Markkula, where they discussed the “importance of European regional cooperation”.
Both will meet again in April, in Bilbao, during a conference on sustainable cities, partly organised by the Basque government.