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The adjustment of the EU’s steel safeguard quotas following the imposition of import bans on steel from Belarus and Russia - Frequently asked questions

Disclaimer: These FAQs provide information on the adjustment of the EU’s steel safeguard quotas, from the perspective of the Commission services. Only the Court of Justice of the EU can give an authoritative interpretation of Union legislation.

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Trade defence
  • How will the steel safeguard measures be adjusted in practice?

Steel exports from Belarus and Russia will drop significantly during the three-month transition period following the export bans and will cease fully thereafter. Maintaining the country-specific quotas for Russia and Belarus would have quickly resulted in a significant shortage of supply in certain products for the EU steel-using industry.

Therefore, in product categories where Russia or Belarus had a country-specific quota, the EU is redistributing those volumes to other exporting countries based on the latter’s share of imports in the category concerned in 2021. To establish the level of these imports per category, the Commission is not taking into account the volumes from Belarus and Russia, nor import volumes from countries currently excluded from the measure (mainly developing countries).

Example: Belarus had a yearly quota of 1 million tons in category X and this must now be redistributed. In 2021, Turkey was the source of 35% of all the category X steel products entering into the EU under the steel quotas, while India was the source of 20%. The 1 million tons formerly allocated as a quota to Belarus will now be split according to the other countries’ share of imports in 2021. Turkey will get an additional 350,000 tons on top of their existing quotas (CSQ), while India will get an additional 200,000 tons.

  • Will this redistribution of existing quotas be enough for users?

This is the best possible methodology to ensure that the quotas can be effectively used to the maximum based on the needs of users reflected in the 2021 trade flows. Moreover, these adjustments can be implemented swiftly: they require no further changes to the implementation by customs services.

  • Does the adjustment the safeguard measures mean the functioning review has been cancelled?

The functioning review, which covers all products currently subject to the steel safeguard, was launched in December 2021 is currently ongoing. It should be finalised in the coming months.

  • Why were the steel safeguard measures simply not terminated?

The issue at stake today is to redistribute the quotas in the Union interest. The question of termination is not on the table. The original reason for imposing this measure (the continuation of the US section 232 measures on steel, and the risk of diversion to the EU market) is still very much a reality, as concluded in last year’s extension decision of the measure.

  • Will imports of steel from Russia and Belarus be blocked at the EU border immediately?

The import bans on Russian and Belarus steel provide a three-month transition period to wind down existing contracts. During the transition period, any goods bought in these countries under contracts established prior to the cut-off date (2 March 2022 for Belarus, 16 March for Russia) – including ancillary contracts necessary for the execution of these contracts – will still be allowed to enter the EU.

However, as there will no longer be an import quota specifically assigned to Russia and Belarus, these products will need to be imported under the (proportionally increased) residual quotas for the respective product categories, which also allow for duty free imports.

Last update: 16 March 2022

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