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Cloudy outlook for EU steel market

Collapsing demand resulting from high inflation and interest rates, exacerbated by conflicts and high power prices, is clouding the outlook for the steel market, according to the European Steel Association (Eurofer).

The slump in apparent steel consumption is expected to further deepen (-5.3%) this year, while the anticipated rebound (+7.6%) in 2024 cannot be taken for granted, Eurofer says, in the face of general uncertainy. Imports, despite very weak demand, continue to maintain their 28% market share.

‘The perspectives for the European steel sector get gloomier every quarter amidst disruptive wars, global tensions, an unresolved energy crisis, high inflation, tightening economic conditions and historically high import shares that are strangling manufacturing,’ says Eurofer director general Axel Eggert.

‘This situation negatively impacts steel demand. It is essential that EU policymakers steer a course which maintains a sustainable industry in Europe and responds to the call of the clean tech value chain – of which steel is a fundamental part – for an EU Clean Industrial Deal and urgent actions to keep Europe in the world’s clean technology race.’

EU market overview

In the second quarter of 2023, apparent steel consumption recorded its fifth consecutive fall (-7.6%), totalling 35.6 million tonnes, still below the levels seen in 2021 and the first half of 2022.

Domestic deliveries followed the same downward trajectory in the second quarter of 2023, declining for the fifth consecutive time (-6.5%). Imports continued to fall (-10.2%) but their pace more than halved compared to the first quarter (-26.6%).

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