Union anger after EU steel summit "fails to deliver"

Welsh steelworkers, who joined a protest in Brussels before ministers met, were disappointed by the lack of immediate action by EU members. Credit: European Parliament

Steel union leaders say they're angry and disappointed that more wasn't achieved at a summit of European industry ministers called to tackle the crisis in the steel industry. Welsh steelworkers were part of a protest in Brussels during the summit. They wanted immediate action to stop China dumping cheep steel on the European market plus agreement for Britain to cut electricity costs to match prices elsewhere in the EU.

The meeting agreed "on the need to take concrete actions", according to the communique issued afterwards. But promises to use "the full range of EU trade policy instruments to ensure a global level playing field" and to reform rules aimed at cutting carbon emissions to make European steel more competitive were far too vague for the unions.

One of the Welsh steelworkers in Brussels for the protest was Les Price from the Shotton works in Flintshire. He said the recent loss of 5,000 jobs in the UK steel industry would only be followed by more redundancies unless real action was taken.

Today the UK Business Secretary told MPs that steel was his top priority.

But his junior minister said it would still be a matter of weeks before the European Union signed off a compensation scheme for energy intensive industries. And in the Assembly, the AM who represents Port Talbot steelworks said he couldn't detect any sense of urgency by the UK government.

The First Minister said there should be immediate action to help steel and all other high energy industries in the UK to give them the same energy costs as elsewhere in Europe.In Brussels, the Labour MEP for Wales, Derek Vaughan, also wanted to emphasise the UK government's responsibility.