The initial safeguard measure was introduced in July 2018 to protect the Union steel market against trade diversion, following the US decision to impose, under its Section 232 legislation, duties on imports of steel into the US market. The US Section 232 measures are still in force.
The decision to extend the safeguard measure follows an investigation requested by 12 EU Member States on whether the conditions to prolong are fulfilled. In accordance with the requirements under EU and WTO rules, the Commission found in its investigation that the safeguard measure continues to be necessary to prevent or remedy serious injury to the EU steel industry, and that the EU industry is adjusting to a market situation in the EU with higher level of imports.
The Commission will closely monitor the prolongation and will review it to ensure that it remains limited to the strict minimum, is adapted to the evolution of the market, and is in line with the overall interest of the EU. This will allow the Commission to change the functioning of the safeguard measure as necessary. In line with WTO rules, the duty-free import quotas of steel will also be increased by 3% annually. The Commission will also initiate a review if the US introduces significant changes to its ‘Section 232’ measure on steel.
The safeguard measure takes the form of Tariff-Rate-Quotas (‘TRQs’) reflecting traditional trade flows from third countries, above which a 25% duty is levied on imports. The Commission has reviewed the functioning of the measure twice – in October 2019 and July 2020. Following a duly substantiated request by 12 EU Member States, the Commission launched an investigation in February 2021 to assess whether to prolong the steel safeguard beyond June 30, 2021.
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