Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier presenting the Steel Action Plan.

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier presenting the Steel Action Plan.

© BMWi/Andreas Mertens

Today, the Federal Cabinet adopted the Steel Action Concept for a strong steel industry in Germany and Europe, which was drawn up under the leadership of the the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

Said Economic Affairs Minister Altmaier: “The Steel Action Concept sends out a strong message about climate-friendly steel ‘Made in Germany’. We want to demonstrate that ambitious climate action and a competitive industrial sector are indeed compatible. It is now important for us to take action to ensure that thirty years from now, this industry, which is so important for our economy, will still be able to produce steel in Germany in a climate-friendly way and remain competitive. Today, we have set the right framework to make this happen.”

Said Hans Jürgen Kerkhoff, President of the German Steel Federation: “The steel industry in Germany welcomes the adoption of the Steel Action Plan by the Federal Government. It means that we now have a coherent overall industrial policy concept that addresses the challenges we in the industry are facing. It is now important that the coming months must be used in various ways: We must successfully mitigate the impact of the coronavirus crisis, prevent another steel import crisis, and establish a level playing field with regard to energy and climate policy. Beyond this, the political instruments for transforming the steel industry into a low-carbon steel industry must be developed both in Germany and at European level.”

Jürgen Kerner, head treasurer of the Metalworkers’ Union (IG Metall) and the member of the board in charge of the steel industry said: “From the workers’ point of view, the Steel Action Plan sends out an important signal for green steel. The Federal Government has created a good basis for the transformation of the steel industry. Only if we consistently work towards a climate-neutral steel industry will we be able to safeguard the 85,000 jobs we have in the steel industry today, and man more along the value chain. It is now important that the Steel Action Plan quickly gives rise to specific funding programmes and that these are implemented in practice. The current crisis and the unused capacity in the industry could result in a dramatic liquidity shortfall and requires close monitoring and support by the federation and the Länder. This is the only way we will be able to produce “green steel” in Germany.”

In its paper, the Federal Government sets out a political overall strategy as to how the country’s steel industry can be and remain strong, internationally competitive and climate neutral. The aim is to ensure that, even in the long term, steel can be produced at a competitive price within Europe and in line with European environmental and climate standards. The Federal Government’s Steel Action Plan is designed to

  1. Creating a level playing field on the global steel market;
  2. Better prevent carbon leakage in the steel industry and other energy-intensive industries;
  3. Facilitate the transition to a climate-friendly steel industry and harness the opportunity to be a pioneer of innovative climate technology.

On the basis of the Steel Action Plan, investments in technologies that are low in greenhouse gas emissions or emissions-free are to be supported, including the industrial use of hydrogen.

The situation in the steel industry and other industries producing basic materials requires that the EU revisits its trade-policy instruments. It must also be taken into account during the reform of the emissions trading system and the State aid rules for the Green Deal. This is why the future of the steel industry is also to be on the agenda of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. In recent years, the international situation for the steel industry has become more difficult as a result of over-capacity on the international market, a complicated trade-policy environment and ambitious environmental and climate targets. It is in this challenging situation that the steel companies are now having to take long-term investment decisions in favour of low-carbon steel production technologies. According to the rough estimates of the sector, this will require investments of approx. €30 billion in Germany alone.