European steel rescue plan back in play

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The Independent Online
A RESCUE plan for the European steel industry was revived yesterday by the European Commission, barely a month after it had killed it off.

But the Commission emphasised that concessions allowing Italy to assist steel plants in its Brescia region to cut capacity by between 5 and 6 million tonnes were the last chance to meet the reductions needed for the overall rescue. It wants at least 19 million tonnes off hot rolled steel capacity in return for helping to lay off workers.

Last month it ruled the Italian aid illegal, as it was aimed at capacity cuts rather than closing the plants altogether, and yesterday's U-turn was accompanied by strict conditions as to how the state aid should be applied.

Sir Leon Brittan, the Externa Trade Commissioner, cast the only vote against the reversed decision, warning that it would breach the Gatt agreement on world trade.

British Steel has won contracts worth pounds 10m to supply steel to Turkey's first car manufacturing plant, a joint venture between Toyota and Mitsui of Japan and Sabanci, one of Turkey's largest industrial groups.